Current Research Projects

What are the implicit and explicit teaching strategies used by the very best acting teachers in the United States? How do those teachers think about the elements and strategies of their classrooms, and the outcomes that students may achieve? In this project, we will be filming more than 100 hours of the best acting classes for adolescents, and interviewing and surveying acting teachings on the types of strategies they use to teach the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical skills used in acting classrooms. 

How do children learn from pretend play? How do they use their own embodiment of a character to learn from stories, television, and play? In this project, we will be bringing children into the lab and engaging with them in pretend that varies how active and how much they portray a character. We will look at how varying levels of portrayal change how much children learn from that play. 

In other work, we are investigating how children understand live versions of fictional characters, such as Santa at the Mall, or Superman and Cinderella at a Theme park or Birthday party; How children process supernatural content in media (and the amount of such content in popular media); How actors get into and out of emotional characters; How audience members understand the personalities, emotions, and physical states of actors as they portray characters. 

Past Research Projects

How do children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) benefit from engaging in a real world, school based musical theatre program? How we can we best measure and observe such a program, and in what domain do we most see change? In this project, we are working with a school based theatre program for children with ASD at a variety of ages, and testing whether engaging in such a program fosters imitative, communication, and social skills.