Is there any research/study/survey/... that looked at the effect of background music in educational videos on the learning outcome?

I am aware of (1) but they focus on educational virtual environments.

(1) Fassbender, Eric, Deborah Richards, Ayse Bilgin, William Forde Thompson, and Wolfgang Heiden. "VirSchool: The effect of background music and immersive display systems on memory for facts learned in an educational virtual environment." Computers & Education 58, no. 1 (2012): 490-500. https://scholar.google.com/scholar?cluster=4113404139067026741&hl=en&as_sdt=0,22

  • I wonder if the instructor's speaking rhythm aligns with the music, and if that affects learning and retention. (in contrast, I'll bet misalignment of rhythm results in subpar results) – halfbit Nov 3 '17 at 14:30
  • For reference, one my background playlists for work/lesson/study was this song: itunes.apple.com/us/album/moonlit-shore/id442778638?i=442778658 – halfbit Nov 3 '17 at 14:43

See Moreno, Roxana, and Richard E. Mayer. "A coherence effect in multimedia learning: The case for minimizing irrelevant sounds in the design of multimedia instructional messages." Journal of Educational psychology 92.1 (2000): 117. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-0663.92.1.117

The authors tested the recommendation that adding bells and whistles (in the form of background music and/or sounds) would improve the quality of a multimedia instructional message. In 2 studies, students received an animation and concurrent narration intended to explain the formation of lightning (Experiment 1) or the operation of hydraulic braking systems (Experiment 2). For some students, the authors added background music (Group NM), sounds (Group NS), both (Group NSM), or neither (Group N). On tests of retention and transfer, Group NSM performed worse than Group N; groups receiving music performed worse than groups not receiving music; and groups receiving sounds performed worse (only in Experiment 2) than groups not receiving sounds. Results were consistent with the idea that auditory adjuncts can overload the learner's auditory working memory, as predicted by a cognitive theory of multimedia learning.

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    When I was a student I used to study listening high-volume background hard rock music and simultaneously watching B-movies on a silenced TV. Is there any experiment covering this type of twisted behaviour? :-) – Massimo Ortolano Sep 7 '16 at 18:34
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    Wait, that isn't normal? – Jon Custer Sep 7 '16 at 19:36
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    Can you give any details? "Adding background music" could be anything from adding a random pop song to an unrelated presentation to developing a sound track in concert with the rest of the instruction in an attempt to complement and reinforce the rest of the presentation. – user13589 Sep 8 '16 at 3:28
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    @Hurkyl You can read the paper to find out all the details. Free PDF available here. – ff524 Sep 8 '16 at 3:29
  • Ah thanks. I didn't think to look elsewhere when I saw the link in the answer was a paywall. – user13589 Sep 8 '16 at 3:32

Primarily Distraction

On a meta level, impression of low video quality.

That's from adding useless distracting content alone. Even if background music would be helpful in some way, it is quite possible that the user explicitly dislikes the chosen style.

Music that the user is closely used to can be of advantage, but that is unrelated; It would be typically louder and also conflict with background music.

A helpful effect of high beats per minute music may be increased dopamine levels, aiding concentration.

(Loosely related: Even worse are multi-second introduction sections with logo and music - it just wastes my time, right at the start. Makes a very negative first impression, even if it is an advertisement.)

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