Educational Psychology

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Research topics: instruction and intervention

Providing support and services for at-risk learners

Our researchers develop and evaluate assessments, data systems, and interventions to provide support and services to at-risk learners that are implemented in community- and school-wide ways.

Faculty and researchers

William Bart headshot
William Bart

Email | Lab

William Bart (psychological foundations of education) investigates methods to improve the thinking skills of students.

Jeffrey Bye headshot


Dr. Bye is particularly interested in student learning of algebra and helping students to connect their intuitive thinking to abstract formalisms.

Andrew Zieffler headshot
Andrew Zieffler

Dr. Zieffler (quantitative methods in education) is a statistics education researcher investigating how students understand statistical concepts such as sampling variability and the logic of statistical inference. He is also developing innovative curricula for teaching statistics to college students from a modern, simulation-oriented perspective, as well as assessments for measuring students’ statistical reasoning and understanding.

LeAnne Johnson headshot
LeAnne Johnson

Email | Lab

Dr. Johnson (special education) researches interventions to improve outcomes for a range of preschool and elementary school-aged children who are at high risk given social, emotional, behavioral, and communication needs. Dr. Johnson is focused on creating the next generation of intervention studies that support high fidelity implementation of evidence-based interventions within tiered intervention and prevention models. This includes research projects that are designed to test the efficacy of social-communication interventions for children with autism.

Panayiota Kendeou headshot
Panayiota Kendeou

Email | Lab

Dr. Kendeou (psychological foundations of education) investigates the development of higher-order language and cognitive skills that support reading comprehension. She also conducts lab-based studies investigating how people learn new knowledge and revise pre-existing knowledge during their reading experiences.

Jennifer McComas headshot
Jennifer McComas


Dr. McComas (special education) applies functional analysis for problem behavior in educational and residential settings. She focuses on basic behavioral processes maintaining desirable and undesirable behavior, such as schedules of reinforcement, stimulus control, and establishing operations. She also studies behavioral treatment of problem behavior based on concurrent schedules of reinforcement as we as antecedent stimuli. Finally, she analyzes the academic behavior performance of students with behavior problems.

Kristen McMaster headshot
Kristen McMaster

Email | Lab

Kristen McMaster (special education) collaborates with colleagues in cognitive psychology and school psychology to develop theory-based assessments and interventions to improve the reading comprehension and early writing skills of children identified as at risk or with disabilities. She also develops systems and supports to promote teachers’ use of data-based decision making and evidence-based instruction.

Faith Miller headshot
Faith Miller

Email | Lab

Dr. Miller (school psychology) focuses her research on the implementation and sustainability of evidence-based practices in schools, particularly as it relates to improving outcomes for children who experience social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties (SEBD). Through her research, Dr. Miller examines critical factors that lead to the implementation of evidence-based practices for students with SEBD within multi-tiered systems of support. This includes the use of defensible assessments to inform data-based decision-making and problem-solving, as well as the development and delivery of a continuum of high-quality interventions to improve student outcomes. As an applied researcher, she works to bridge the research-to-practice gap in order to improve outcomes for students with SEBD.

Frank Symons headshot
Frank Symons

Email | Lab

Dr. Symons (special education) conducts research to gain understanding of the severe behavior problems of children and adults with special needs, primarily those with developmental disabilities and emotional or behavioral disorders. For these two groups, much of his research has focused on self-injurious behavior and classroom aggression, respectively. The majority of his research has been observationally based, theoretically grounded in behavioral principles, and driven by a commitment to meaningful, functional outcomes.

Keisha Vamra head shot
Keisha Varma Email | Lab

Dr. Varma (psychological foundations of education) explores the cognitive processes that underlie science learning. Her work is at the intersection of educational psychology, cognitive science, and the learning sciences. She investigates students’ understanding of complex science concepts and how technology can facilitate science learning. Her work shows that technology, including interactions with scientific visualizations, can improve students’ representations for complex systems as well as their learning outcomes. Dr. Varma also leverages psychological methodologies to understand changes in teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge and their representations of effective teaching practice.


EPSY 5625 - Education of Infants, Toddlers, and Preschool Children with Disabilities: Introduction

Overview of the issues, problems, and practical applications in designing early intervention services for young children with disabilities and their families.

EPSY 5619W - Specialized Interventions in Mathematics for Students with Mild to Moderate Disabilities (WI)

Mathematics interventions using data-based, decision-making approach. Instructional strategies. Prevention/remediation of mathematics difficulties.

EPSY 8116 – Reading for Meaning: Cognitive Processes in the Comprehension of Texts

This course draws provides a review of reading research from the fields of psychology, education, and cognitive sciences. In this course students gain an understanding of the cognitive processes that take place during comprehension and of the development of these processes. They also explore the applications and implications of this knowledge for educational practice, including instruction and assessment.

EPSY 8113 - The Psychology of Scientific Reasoning

Research at the intersection of cognitive science, educational psychology, science education. What psychology tells us about how people think, reason, and make decisions. Read empirical research papers that explore the psychological processes that underlie scientific reasoning.

EPSY 8816 - Academic Prevention and Intervention

Theories, research, and practice underlying instructional/academic interventions for students. Systems consultation, organizational change.

EPSY 8815 - Behavioral and Social Emotional Prevention and Intervention

Theories, research, and practice underlying socio-emotional interventions for students. Systems consultation/organizational change.

EPSY 8817 - Problem Analysis and Consultation in School Psychology

Practical application of applied behavioral theory guided by system ecological perspectives in problem-solving with school staff, parents, and students. Theories, stages, and issues of providing indirect services through consultation. Critical analysis of theory and research. Applied project in 8813 practicum placements.