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9-12 > Human Body

Mind Over Matter: How Does the Brain Work?
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    Listening Comprehension Experiment

The following paragraph has been recorded below in four different voices—one male, one female, one male with an accent, and one female with an accent:

One of the most well loved American poets is Walt Whitman, author ofLeaves of Grass. Although Whitman sometimes wrote about uncommon subjects, many of his poems have to do with such everyday topics as youth, age, love, and beauty. One famous Whitman poem, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” is about the death of President Lincoln, whom Whitman admired greatly.
Divide your students into four groups and assign each one of the recordings to a different group. Choose one group to go first, and while the other students are safely out of earshot, play the recording they have been assigned. (Be sure not to tell them ahead of time what they are doing.) Allow them to listen to itone timeonly. As soon as they have finished, ask them to take the shortWhitman Quiz.

When all four groups have listened to their assigned recording and taken the quiz, tabulate the results and determine the average number of correct answers for each of the groups. (The answers areLeaves of Grass,death, and lilacs.) These results should indicate whether a speaker’s accent or gender has any influence on listening comprehension. You can conclude this experiment by leading a discussion about whether the experiment is scientifically valid. What factors may have affected the accuracy or interpretation of the data? What other methods might an experimenter have tried to achieve the same results?

male voice
male voice with accent

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female voice female voice with accent

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real audio