College of Education and Human Development

Department of Educational Psychology

Research topics: Language, literacy and 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.


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) 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

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

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.