Measuring Rhythmic Ability: Validation of a Digital Rhythmic Ability Evaluation Tool (DRAET)

By Kyriazis, Dimitrios; Pavlidou, Eva et al. | Physical Educator, Winter 2018 | Go to article overview

Measuring Rhythmic Ability: Validation of a Digital Rhythmic Ability Evaluation Tool (DRAET)


Kyriazis, Dimitrios, Pavlidou, Eva, Barkoukis, Vassilis, Fotiadou, Eleni, Physical Educator


The evaluation of rhythmic ability is an essential feature of human motion, as it enhances teaching approaches in both physical education and music-movement education that aims for smooth, kinetic, emotional development with rhythm. Gallahue (1996) emphasizes that when a motion is performed with rhythm, children tend to better create basic motional elements while improving their abilities. Considering this, creating and implementing reliable methodological tools (in terms of accuracy in digital recording, as well as evaluating the multifaceted aspects of rhythm and human motion) is important for researchers in many sectors of education (Chamberlain, 2003; Kuhlman & Schweinhart, 1999).

A survey based on the studies of musical education noted an absence in the evaluation of rhythmic synchronization of complex motions between individual body parts (Ben-Pazi, Gross-Tsur, Bergman, & Schalev, 2003; Chen, Penhune, & Zattore, 2008; Corriveau & Goswami, 2009; Grahn & Brett, 2007; Repp & Penel, 2004; Snyder & Krumhansl, 2001). This renders these works unfit for application in music-movement education and generally in physical education, where such complex motions are usually required. For example, to evaluate rhythmic ability, some tools assess the difference of the rhythmic correspondence to visual and auditory stimuli by applying a computer as an auxiliary tool, in which the user is called to press the space button or to click the leftbutton of their mouse, according to visual samples on the screen (or the audio samples on the speakers). A common feature of these methods is the study of rhythmical and fine motion of a specific body part (e.g., finger motion), while ignoring other body parts and rhythmic coordination among them.

Moreover, in other studies examining rhythmic ability by tests that contain a wide variety of motions suited to physical education, lack of accuracy has been noticed by studies that collect data through visual observation. Specifically, one method often applied by those that study the influence of music and motional intervention programs in physical education is the High/Scope Beat Competence Analysis Test (H/SBCAT), which is offered in several variations with a common feature (i.e., the judges' evaluation through visual observation). An earlier version called Rhythmic Competency Analysis Test (RCAT) proposed by Weikart (1982) was applied as a rhythmic evaluation test by High (1994), who studied the effectiveness of rhythmic education methods in the development of rhythmic correspondence in preschool children.

Zachopoulou, Derri, Chatzopoulos, and Ellinoudis (2003) assessed the rhythmic ability of children aged 4 to 6 in an updated version of the H/SBCAT (Weikart, Schweinhart, & Larner, 1987); subjects were asked to implement seven discrete motional tasks (clapping hands, preferred hand tapping, nonpreferred hand tapping, bilateral hands tapping, parallel hands tapping, bilateral foot movement, and walking) according to the beat pattern with a metronome at 100 bpm. Two judges and visual observers determined whether the motions were synchronized to the beat. Other researchers applied other variations of the H/SBCAT to preschool and young children (Agdiniotis et al., 2009; Derri, Tsapakidou, Zachopoulou, & Gini, 2001; Pollatou, Karadimou, & Gerodimos, 2005; Pollatou et al., 2012; Kuhlman & Schweinhart, 1999) and secondary school children (Pollatou, Liapa, Diggelidis, & Zachopoulou, 2005).

Weikart et al. (1987) provided evidence on the validity and internal consistency (αs between .70 and .79) of the H/SBCAT. The test has also shown a strong positive correlation with gross-motor ability (Kiger, 1994) and school achievement (Kiger, 1994; Weikart et al., 1987). Kuhlman and Schweinhart (1999) studied a group of children aged 4 to 11 for metronome timing, with a computer and input devices to measure response to unimpeded beeps; musical timing was measured with responses to beats embedded in instrumental music, as a variation of the H/SBCAT (Weikart et al. …

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