Educational Psychology

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Research topics: language, literacy & reading

Investigating how children learn to communicate and read from an early age

Reading is one of the most complex and uniquely human cognitive activities, and one that is essential for adequate functioning in our society. For these reasons, we study how children acquire language and other developmental recursors, how they learn reading skills, how to identify children who are at-risk for reading difficulties, how best to teach and assess reading skills, and how best to assess and teach language and early literacy. We address these questions from a variety of perspectives and methodological paradigms, ranging from laboratory to classroom and community.

Faculty and staff

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) focuses primarily on students who need intensive individualized support in reading. For those students, she conducts brief experimental analyses (BEA) to identify an instructional strategy that proves to be an effective approach for improving student performance in accuracy, fluency, or comprehension of written text. Based on the results of the BEA, she supports extended implementation of the intervention.

Kristen McMaster headshot

Kristen McMaster

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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.

Alisha Wackerle-Hollman headshot

Alisha Wackerle-Hollman


Dr. Wackerle-Hollman (school psychology) researches early literacy development and assessment, the transition of research to practice, community-based participatory research, children's literature and school readiness.


EPSY 8116 – Reading for Meaning

This course 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 8600 – Special Topics: Special Education Issues

This seminar is designed for doctoral students in special education and others interested in research on reading difficulties and disabilities. Students read about and discuss perspectives on reading disabilities, causes and consequences of reading disabilities, characteristics of students with reading disabilities, assessment and intervention for students with reading disabilities, and approaches to studying reading disabilities.

EPSY 8709 - Special Education Issues – Language and Early Literacy Development, Assessment, and Intervention for Young Children

This seminar addresses contemporary issues in theory, assessment, and interventions to promote language and early literacy development for young children (typically, those not yet age-eligible to enroll in Kindergarten) at risk for later reading delays. The course reviews and analyzes relevant theoretical models, basic research related to these theories, and applied research in assessment and intervention, particularly research conducted in the past 5 years as well as emerging issues of research and practice.

EPSY 8816 - Academic Prevention and Intervention

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