The purpose of this thesis was to review and investigate the effectiveness of Accelerative Learning, a teaching method which claims to affect positively both the psychological state of the student and the cognitive learning process.
In order to throw some light on the confusion and controversy associated with Accelerative Learning, it was necessary to begin by examining the evolution of the method over the past two decades. This showed that several different versions had emerged since Lozanov's original Suggestopedia, and that important changes had been made to the content and structure of the method.
The contribution of three versions - Superlearning, Suggestive Accelerative Learning and Teaching (SALT) and Psychopädie - were examined in the light of relevant research findings, and it transpired that although distinct differences exist between these versions and Suggestopedia, all four have three major elements in common. These are music, relaxation and suggestion.
The literature review, therefore, examined the effectiveness of these three elements as individual variables in the learning process as well as the effectiveness of Accelerative Learning as a complete teaching method. Analysis of studies showed consistent findings for the effectiveness of music and relaxation in a variety of learning tasks. Findings for the effectiveness of suggestion as a single variable were less extensive and less consistent.
Studies which investigated Accelerative Learning as a complete teaching method in the classroom consistently reported findings for the time saving and for improved achievement (albeit not as dramatic as those promulgated by the popular press), with some indication of improved affective variables being associated with use of Accelerative Learning procedures. The most important gap in the literature was of studies carried out in the natural school environment investigating the effect of Accelerative Learning on affective variables and achievement in the context of language learning.
This problem was addressed in the empirical part of the thesis which consisted of three studies. Of major importance in these investigations was that Accelerative Learning was compared to a teaching method with similar objectives and strategies. The first study was a quasi-experiemental investigation of the effect of Accelerative Learning on behaviour, attitude, self-concept and achievement in five secondary school language classes. The findings strongly supported claims for improved behaviour and attitude, with limited support given to claims for improved achievement. Claims for improved self-concept were not supported in this environment.
The second study was an experimental investigation of the effect of Accelerative Learning on attitude, language self-concept and achievement in one primary school language class. Findings strongly supported claims for improvement in all three variables and for high long-term retention rates of materials.
The third study was a time-series analysis of the effect of Accelerative Learning on the functional use of language in one secondary school class. Significantly better performance during the experimental phase was found on tests of recall, written word production, writing quality, fluency and transfer skills of structures. No support for high long-term retention rates of vocabulary was found.