Educational Psychology

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Mathematics, Abstraction, Learning, & Thinking (MALT) Lab


Understanding how students learn and think about abstract concepts in mathematics, statistics, and programming.

Research areas

  • Early algebra learning
  • Mathematical cognition
  • Statistical cognition
  • Programming instruction
Jeffrey Bye headshot

Jeffrey K. Bye

  • Lab director
  • Lecturer in the psychological foundations of education program

Research group

V.N. Vimal Rao headshot

V.N. Vimal RaoGraduate student

V.N. Vimal Rao is a PhD candidate in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota and formerly a statistician at the US Census Bureau and the Health Resources and Services Administration. His work examines the psychology of statistics through the lens of cognitive psychology (i.e., how does one ‘do statistics’) as well as the lens of educational psychology (i.e., how does one learn how to ‘do statistics’).

Rina M. Harsch headshot

Rina M. HarschGraduate student

Rina is a graduate student in the Educational Psychology Department at the University of Minnesota. Her research interests revolve around how people learn and revise their beliefs. In particular, she cares about the roles of language and justification methods (such as trust in testimony and explanation quality) in these processes.

Gina Ristani headshot

Gina RistaniGraduate student

Gina is pursuing her master’s degree in psychological foundations of education, specifically, learning and cognition. She is currently conducting research on using what we know about expert problem-solving for improving novice persistence in the face of failure, as well as how different types of feedback affects student programming outcomes and computing attitudes. Her research interests involve learning how to make science more accessible and equitable by helping students develop a positive and inclusive scientific identity, while also building skills in educational and organizational program evaluation.

Jimin Park headshot

Jimin ParkPhD candidate

Jimin is a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota, the department of educational psychology. Her research interests began with how people understand and process fractions. She first investigated the language compatibility effect, if a language privileges its naming of a number. The study was done in the context of fractions where English names the numerator of a fraction first whereas Korean names the denominator first. Then she also investigated a more educational aspect: how people reason about reducible fractions (e.g., 4/6) versus irreducible fractions (e.g., 2/3). She recently extended research area to data visualization. Her research currently explores whether numerical magnitudes are recruited to understand bar graphs, and thus inform the design of bar graphs that simplify their understanding.

Ali J. Fulsher, headshot

Ali J. FulsherGraduate student

Ali is an Educational Psychology PhD student at the University of Minnesota, studying the psychological foundations of learning. Her interests center on the cognitive and metacognitive/self-regulatory skills involved in searching for, evaluating, and learning from digital and print media. She is committed to understanding, and ultimately teaching, these information literacy skills crucial for successful learning in the 21st century.