Are all studies created equal?

Here is a very different kind of study for the BBB community to ponder. Periodically the research community completes a systematic review, sometimes known as a literature review, of a given area of research. These studies help  people who use research to inform their practice and policies to compare across studies within that given area.

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This particular systematic review is in the area of auditory processing development. In the article you will see that the researchers have designed a way of selecting the studies (this could be by date, findings, design type etc.) and a system for reviewing the findings. In this case they started with over 1000 studies and reduced it to 10 to review in depth.

Overall the research concluded that “music training enhances auditory processing skills; the longer the training lasts, the more these skills are reinforced”. They go onto suggest that “music training is an effective method that can be potentially used in children to develop their oral and written communication, assist them with the acquisition of auditory skills, and help them improve such skills after acquisition.”

This is a good article to show that research studies have incredible variation. This is why instead of there being one study to rule them all, it might be better to look at this as a puzzle, with every study adding to the overall scene or picture the researchers are trying to create. Some studies fit together perfectly, often these are sequential studies conducted by the same or similar team of researchers, they are following an idea over multiple studies. Some studies definitely don’t fit together and may even produce contradictory results. This is the nature of research and the quest to understand any given phenomenon.

To see how difficult it is to compare studies, scroll through to Chart 1 which lists the studies. You will see how different the age range, length of study and type of study are. While this shows a lot of difference it also shows how auditory processing can be improved by a little and a lot of music learning, and that this improvement can have a positive impact on auditory processing, which is directly related to language learning.

Enjoy!

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