A Study to Increase Elementary and Adolescent On-task Behavior

Results of the on-task study.


The chart presents the results of the pre- and post-test off-task scores of the treatment and observed groups in public school general music class.

The aim of this study was to determine if a research designed tangible goal would improve students’ attentiveness.  The tangible goal was an audio CD recording of all of the music activities experienced over a marking period (approximately two months).

A 3-way ANOVA was used to analyze the off-task scores from the pretest and posttest. from a study where the researcher set out to see if working toward a professional audio recording of general music students’ unit lesson would affect their attentiveness.

Results of the on-task study.

A significant difference in the 3rd-grade group from pretest to posttest.


The researcher predicted that the novelty of the recording experience and receiving a CD of their performance would motivate students to work harder to “sound good.” To work harder, students would spend more class time doing what the teacher asked of them.


A total of (n = 235) elementary and middle school students in 3rd-, 5th-, and 7th-grade general music classes (four classes at each grade level) participated in this investigation. This study was conducted at four elementary and two middle school general music classes located in Tucson, Arizona.

At each grade level, two classes were randomly selected and assigned to the treatment group while the other two classes served as the control group.

On the first and the last days of the marking period, the researcher used a video camera to record students behaviors. The researcher watched each student for the class period in two-minute observe and two-minute rest pattern.

Using a stopwatch, the researcher recorded the number of seconds the student was engaged in a non-teacher directed activity. After watching a student for the full class period, then, the researcher tallied the number of seconds the student was off-task.

A second judge watched 15% of the videos to determine the inter-judge reliability score of 0.58 which is considered moderate (Landis and Koch, 1977).

In addition, students in the treatment group were told that the last class of the following unit would be professionally recorded and that each student would receive a copy of that day’s performance.

A CD master was created and used to make copies for each student in the treatment groups. The CD was professionally labeled with the student’s school name, grade, teacher’s name, and the date of the recording.


Each student in all eight class was observed in two-minute intervals. The judge used a stopwatch to measure how long each student was off task during the two-minute-interval.

The total number of times the student was not doing what the teacher instructed. After the two minutes, the judge focused on the next student until every student had been observed. The process repeated for the duration of the class period.

Each student’s two-minute intervals were totaled and entered into the statistical program SPSS. A 3-way ANOVA was used to compare the mean scores of all eight general music classes.

The chart above presents the mean scores for all students in the treatment and observed groups at each grade level.


The students in the 3rd-grade treatment group were the significantly longer amount of time focused on teacher-directed behaviors compared to the pre-test. Meanwhile, 3rd-graders in the observed group were off-task a lot longer during the post-test compared to the pre-test.


The 5th-graders in both groups spend nearly an equal amount of time doing teacher-directed behaviors. However, on the posttest, students in the treatment group spent significantly more time doing teacher-directed behaviors.

Meanwhile, the students in the observed group spent less time doing teacher-directed behaviors.


 Students in both 7th-grade groups spent a lot of time doing nonteacher-directed behaviors with the observed group worse than the treatment group. However, both groups spent more time on teacher-directed behaviors during the post-test.


Data analysis of the 3rd-grade groups suggests that the treatment condition was effective at motivating the students to remain focused on their teacher and participate as instructed. The same thing can be said of the 5th-grade treatment group.

Unlike the younger students, the professional recording and CD were not effective at increasing the amount of time that 7th-graders were engaged in teacher-directed behaviors.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s