School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Meredith Park


Phonics, Music, Schema Theory, Kindergarten


Education | Elementary Education | Music | Music Education


The purpose of this qualitative, multiple case study was to explore the utilization of music to teach phonics in kindergarten at four elementary schools in northwest Ohio. The theory guiding this study was the schema theory as it explains how individuals are able to recognize patterns previously learned, organize those patterns, and then use those patterns to perceive new information (Green, 2010). This research sought to answer the central research question, “How do kindergarten teachers utilize music to teach phonics within the classroom?” The study included 10 cases within four different school districts. The participants were kindergarten teachers in Northwest Ohio with a variety of teaching experiences. For this research, data collection took place through one-on-one, open-ended, semi-structured interviews with all 10 participants. Data collection followed case study protocol and included direct observation and physical artifacts, including photos of the classroom and lesson plans. Data analysis occurred through analytic strategies including coding and within-case and cross-case analysis (Yin, 2014). The analysis resulted in four themes. The first theme was pedagogy with the sub-themes of standard phonics curriculum and music-based curriculum. The second theme was perceptions with the sub-themes of benefits and challenges. The third theme was classroom management and the fourth theme was confidence. The results indicated that there is a strong correlation between using music to teach phonics and student retention. Finally, recommendations for future research were discussed to benefit kindergarten teachers, curriculum coordinators, administrators, and collegiate instructors.