Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


Curriculum and Instruction

Committee Director

Judith Dunkerly-Bean

Committee Member

Helen Crompton

Committee Member

Thomas W. Bean


The purposes of this qualitative phenomenological case study were to investigate multiple student experiences in a general elective introduction to literature course when music was added as an autonomously structured assignment. Music and song lyrics are no strangers to the classroom setting, but there is a gap in the literature examining the space where students can create meaningful links between music they enjoy and assigned course readings in college English. Informed by social constructivism and English studies theories this study was designed to investigate any impact that autonomously driven music-link assignments may have on students. The structured assignments were called music-link assignments. The music-link assignments were designed to encourage student criticality while interacting with an assigned reading and locating a link to a song of their choosing. Study documents included semi-structured and informal interviews, artifacts including music-link assignments that include an experiential portion for student reflection, and reflections taken in class during small group class discussions. Data and findings from this study indicated that many students cited positive affects in their experience, a greater feeling of agency in the class, and relatability to the assigned readings. Also, some students noted difficulty in completing the assignments. Overall, this study demonstrates the need for further research in combining facets of popular culture, such as music, in different content areas, and settings.


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