University of Oulu

Musical inquiry : an autoethnographic exploration to infuse STEM education with sound

Saved in:
Author: Lenders, Roman1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.6 MB)
Pages: 79
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : R. Lenders, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-08-19
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Karjalainen, Magda
Reviewer: Karjalainen, Magda
Sutela, Katja


STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) and the arts are often separated in schools. This is due to a historically prevalent Cartesian mind-body dualism. But there is growing interest in allowing students to use art with science, because it enthuses students to explore, create and learn. This combination is called STEAM. In this thesis, I used a combination of autoethnography and arts based research to explore the viability of music as a form of STEAM. Music has a lot of potential for creating meaning and has cognitive and social benefits for development, which makes it a useful medium. These benefits have not gone unnoticed, as multiple researchers are experimenting with ways to use music for STEM. However, they mostly use the lyrics as a form of learning, and the potential of the sounds themselves is underused. I therefore used musical inquiry, the usage of musical composition and representative sounds, in my experiments. In these experiments, I followed online courses and reflected on what I learned using musical inquiry and written reflections. My results are that musical inquiry can improve retention and recall of information through its use as a mnemonic device. It can lead to deeper inquiry into the subject matter. It can help put people in a flow state which makes learning more automatic, and it can make learning STEM more enticing. The downsides are that it takes a long time and is not suitable for people without musical experience. I conclude that musical inquiry is a suitable way of learning, but it is just one way of knowing. In general, encouraging students to use art forms that suit them and to seek out their own forms of meaning making is a good way to enhance both the arts and the sciences. Throughout the thesis both my own and other people’s music is linked. By interspacing music and theory, I combine art and science not only in the experiments, but in the end product as well. I call this integration sonic autoethnography, which brings reflection to an auditory level.

see all

Copyright information: © Roman Lenders, 2021. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.