Nicole Rivera

Associate Professor of Psychology, Psychology and Neuroscience


+1 630 637 5921

Dr. Nicole R. Rivera, holds a Masters and Doctorate in Educational Psychology along with an advanced certificate in Qualitative Research.  Prior to her work in Educational Psychology, Nicole completed course work and clinical training in music therapy.  She worked as a board certified music therapist (MT-BC) for approximately 17 years before transitioning to academia, working primarily with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families. Nicole continues to maintain an active research and scholarship agenda related to music therapy and ASD as a way to give back to a field and clients that taught her so much.

Since starting to teach at North Central College in 2008, Nicole has also developed a strong interest in examining how context shapes learning experiences.  This interest grew into a focus on experiences in informal learning spaces such as museums, zoos, and aquariums.  Through the Informal Learning Research Team, Nicole works with students on research and evaluation projects with various community partners. 

Download CV

Selected Scholarship

Rivera, N. & Barlow, D. (2014). Developing multicultural sensitivity in early childhood music therapy practices. imagine, 5(1), 86-89.

Kern, P., Rivera, N., Chandler, A. & Humpal, M. (2013). Music Therapy Services for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Survey of Clinical Practices and Training Needs. Journal of Music Therapy. 50(4), 274-303. doi: 10.1093/jmt/50.4.274

Rivera, N. & Powers, M. (2012). Muzykoterapia a spectrum zaburzen autystycznch: dzialania O charakterze interdyscyplinarnym w Standach Znednoczonych (Music therapy and autism spectrum disorders: Interdisciplinary practices in the United States).  Stachrya, K. (Ed.) Podstawy Muzykoterapii. Lublin, Poland: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Marii Curie-Sklodowskiej

Courses Taught

PSY 100: Psychology: Science of Behavior

PSY 205: Educational Psychology

PSY 210: Child Dvelopment

PSY 220: Psychology of Adolescence

PSY 310: Cultural Psychology

PSY 330: Community Psychology

PSY 397/ 497: Internship