School Readiness: Can A Literacy-based Music Curriculum Enhance Linguistic Skills in Preschool Children?

Catherine Ming Tu & Brenda Hannon
Research Track
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The impact of music on student cognitive development has been a focal issue of research related to neuroscience and music education since the 90s (Costa-Giomi, 2014; Hallam, 2010; Shore, 1997; Strait & Kraus, 2011). Previous research revealed some consistent findings that music lessons promote intellectual development. For instance, Schellenberg (2004) conducted a study in which 6-year-olds (N=144) were randomly assigned to two different types of music lessons (keyboard or voice) or to control groups that received drama lessons or no lessons. Results indicated that children in the music group demonstrated greater increase in full-scale IQ; however, the impact of long-term daily music activities on preschool children’s linguistic skills have not been extensively studied (Costa-Giomi, 2014). The purpose of this study is to pilot a study investigating whether participating daily in a literacy-based music program will enhance preschoolers' linguistic skills. Three counterbalanced groups with 4- and 5-year-old children (N=50) will be recruited from a similar geographic and social-economic location. The intervention will be a literacy-based music curriculum. This curriculum incorporates age-appropriate music activities that engage children in singing, focused listening, movement, and the playing of rhythm instruments. The children will be tested before, in the middle, and after a 18-week intervention on a number of measures, including two sub-tests of The Cognitive Assessment System and two sub-test of the IOWA (Riverside Publishing) on sequential processing of grammar, short term memory, letter decoding and word decoding, and language comprehension. Results will be analyzed to determine if there are significant differences among the pre-, middle, and post-test scores. Discussion of the findings, as well as recommendations for future research directions will be stipulated at the end of the research project.

Biography

Brenda Hannon focuses her research on identifying individual differences in reading comprehension across the lifespan. Brenda has worked with Dr. Meredyth Daneman to develop/validate a new measure that assesses four higher-level comprehension processes: namely text memory, text inferencing, knowledge integration, and knowledge access. Drs Hannon and Daneman have also completed a number of other studies, targeting other populations such as seniors and pre-readers.

Brenda’s research with pre-readers is of particular interest to human development researchers because it shows how comprehension processes that are implicated in reading, can be captured using pictures. She has also systematically tested relationships among cognitive components of reading that are proposed by a number of reading theories.