College of Education and Human Development

Department of Educational Psychology

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.


William Bart

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

Jeffrey Bye

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

LeAnne Johnson

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. 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

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

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

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

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, 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

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.

Martin Van Boekel

Van Boekel's research program has two distinct and overarching goals. The first goal is to understand how people learn when correct new information conflicts with incorrect prior knowledge. Van Boekel is also interested in how we can facilitate learning through the feedback we provide, and other strategies we employ in our classrooms. The second goal of this research is to investigate the factors that support positive youth development.

Keisha Varma

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. Varma also leverages psychological methodologies to understand changes in teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge and their representations of effective teaching practice.

Andrew Zieffler

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.