Research

Mapping the Beat: A Geography through Music Curriculum

Investigator: Liane Brouillette

Researcher: Stephanie Felder

Graduate Student Researcher: Ron Richardson

Funding: National Geographic Education Foundation

Mapping the Beat was designed to address the lack of standards-based geography content and culture-based arts instruction in U.S. schools. Several factors are believed to contribute to the lack of attention to these instructional areas:

  • a lack of arts and geography training among elementary educators

  • limited knowledge of available lesson planning resources and geography standards

  • increased pressure to prepare students for standardized testing that does not include geography or art among the disciplines tested

  • school district mandates that limit time spent on topics other than literacy and math.

The Mapping the Beat curriculum of music and geography instruction was implemented in 24 fifth grade classrooms in six states (California, Delaware, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin). The curriculum teaches students about the integral ties between physical environment, cultural geography, and music. Students explore the cultural and geographical features of different U.S. regions, then relate these to the musical practices that grew up in these environments. The project included outreach activities by advanced university arts students and professional development workshops for participating teachers. A quasi-experimental study examined student outcomes at the middle school level.

For additional information about Mapping the Beat, click here.