Project Title: 

Research on Equity via the Arts in Childhood (REACH)

Funding detail: 
NEA Research Lab
West Chester University
Principal Investigator: 
Eleanor Brown, PhD
Start year: 
Project summary: 

The cooperative agreement will involve the design and implementation of a research agenda to address the following questions: a) Do high-quality musical experiences improve young children's capacity for self-regulation?; b) Are music-related improvements in self-regulation mediated or explained by changes in children's neurophysiological function?; c) What specific aspects of high-quality musical experiences, defined in terms of caregiver/educator behaviors and pedagogical strategies, promote these changes in neurophysiological function and/or capacity for self-regulation?; and d) What are the distinct versus common effects of music (either alone or combined with movement) and other arts and non-arts interventions, and at what levels of participation? 

West Chester University of Pennsylvania, in partnership with research firm WolfBrown, will establish the Research on Equity via the Arts in Childhood (REACH) Lab to advance scientific understanding of how arts experiences may foster positive self-regulation outcomes (both physiological and self-reported outcomes) as well as promote equity for young children facing the effects of poverty, racism, and related forms of adversity. Researchers will examine outcomes of arts participation as related to three different contexts: 1) interactions with caregivers in toddlerhood, 2) pre-school classrooms, and 3) out-of-school instruction following school entry. Research methods to address these questions include correlational, quasi-experimental, and experimental designs featuring a blend of observational systems, laboratory assessments, and neurophysiological measures. 

The REACH Lab will develop a website, post quarterly blog posts, host a biennial convening, produce research reports, create applied tools with accompanying toolkits, as well as train undergraduate students in rigorous methods for studying the health benefits of arts engagement from a behavioral neuroscience approach. Partnering arts organizations include Settlement Music School, Carnegie Hall, and Play on Philly. Research findings will guide refinement of these partnering organizations' program offerings.

Other Key Personnel: 
  • Steven Holochwost, PhD
  • Dennie Palmer Wolf