Domain-specific learning, Epistemic beliefs, Text-based learning, Interplay of knowledge, strategies, and motivation in academic development, Relational reasoning

Dr. Patricia Alexander is a Distinguished University Professor, the Jean Mullan Professor of Literacy, and a Distinguished Scholar-Teacher in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology at the University of Maryland, where she heads the Disciplined Reading and Learning Research Laboratory. She is a member of the National Academy of Education, and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and the Society for Text and Discourse. Dr. Alexander’s areas of expertise include learning, expertise development, relational reasoning, critical-analytic thinking, and medium and multimedia effects on learning. Named one of the five most influential educational psychologists over the past decade, Dr. Alexander’s honors include the Oscar S. Causey Award for outstanding contributions to literacy research from the Literacy Research Association, the Career Achievement in Educational Psychology from APA Division 15, and the Sylvia Scribner Career Award from AERA Division C. She has published over 340 articles, books, chapters, and monographs in the area of learning and instruction and presented over 400 papers or invited addresses at national and international conferences. She serves on the editorial boards for 12 leading educational journals. Before becoming a college professor, she was a middle school teacher and reading specialist.

Curriculum Vitae
Lab: Disciplined Reading and Learning Research Lab (

Fellow, American Educational Research Association (AERA)

Fellow, Division 15, American Psychological Association (APA)

Fellow, Society for Discourse and Text

Fellow, Society for Discourse and Text, 2008

Spencer Fellow of the National Academy of Education


Mercator Fellowship, Mercator Foundation, Germany 2024-2027.

K-Collaboration Hub(K-CLUB) Program at Korea University, 2024-2027.

Named one of the five highly successful female educational psychologists, (Prinz et al., 2020)

Member, National Academy of Education, 2019

Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland, 2019

Distinguished Speaker, Helge Eng Invited Lecture, University of Oslo, Norway, 2019.

Distinguished Visiting Scholar, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand, 2018

Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Faculty of Education University of Turku, Finland, 2018.

College of Education, University of Maryland, Excellence in Teaching Award, 2013-2014

Recipient of the University of Maryland System Regents Faculty Award for Mentoring 2012

Jean Mullan Professor of Literacy, University of Maryland, 2008

Recipient, Sylvia Scribner Outstanding Researcher Award, Division C, American Educational Research Association, 2007

Recipient, Edward Lee Thorndike Award for Career Achievement in Educational Psychology, Division 15, American Psychological Association, 2006.

Recipient, Oscar S. Causey Award for Outstanding Contributions, Literacy Research Association [formerly the National Reading Conference], 2001

Distinguished Scholar-Teacher, University of Maryland, 2000-2001


Edited Volumes

Mayer, R. E., Alexander, P. A., & Fiorella, L. (Eds.) (in preparation). Handbook of research on learning and instruction: Third Edition. Routledge.

Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, O., Alexander, P. A., & Pellegrino, J. W. (Eds.) (2022). Assessing information processing and online reasoning as a prerequisite for learning in higher education. Frontiers Research Topics. https.//doi.10.3389/978-2-83250-164-1

Chapters in Edited Volumes

Murphy, P. K., & Alexander, P. A. (in press). Centering muted philosophical voices in educational psychology. F. Lopez, J. DeCuir-Gunby, & D. Gray (Eds.), Handbook of race, equity, and asset-based research in educational psychology. Routledge.

Murphy, P. K., Alexander, P. A., & Ogata, T. M. (2024). Hast thee any philosophy: Unearthing the value of philosophy for educational psychology. In P. A. Schutz & K. R. Muis (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology (4th ed., pp. 15-47). Routledge.

Alexander, P. A. (2023). The interplay of knowledge, strategies, and interest in the development of expertise within professions. In J. Glückler, C. Winch, & A. M. Punstein (Eds.) Professions and proficiency (Knowledge and space, Vol 18). Springer.

Alexander, P. A. (2023). Exploring the boundaries between motivation, cognition, and emotion: Theoretical, empirical, and practical distinctions. In M. Bong, S-I Kim, & J. Reeve (Eds.), Motivation science: Controversies and insights (pp. 232-237). Oxford University Press.

Alexander, P. A. (2023). Good versus bad motivation? Avoiding the lure of false dichotomies. In M. Bong, S-I Kim, & J. Reeve (Eds.), Motivation science: Controversies and insights (pp. 137-143). Oxford University Press.

Alexander, P. A. (2023). Creating a motivating learning environment: Guiding principles from philosophy, psychology, and pedagogy. In M. Bong, S-I Kim, & J. Reeve (Eds.), Motivation science: Controversies and insights (pp. 296-304). Oxford University Press.

Alexander, P. A., & Fusenig, J. (2023). Learning across the lifespan. In R. Tierney, F. Rizvi, & K. Ercikan (Eds.), International encyclopedia of education (4th ed.): Section 14. Learning, cognition and human development (pp. 443-450), I. Wilkinson & J. Parr (Sect. Eds.). Elsevier.

Alexander, P. A., & Schoute, E. C. (2022). Knowledge, knowing, and information: Their meaning and meaningfulness to learning and development. In T. Good & M. McCaslin (Sect. Eds.), and D. Fisher (Gen. Ed.), Online encyclopedia on education. Routledge.

Alexander, P. A., & Mayer, R. (2021). United States of America. In T. de Jong (Ed.), Graduating around the globe: Protocols, principles, and traditions for PhD graduations. ISSUU: University of Trente.

Alexander, P. A. (2021). Reading and learning: An intricate and inseparable bond. In D. Sumara & D. Alvermann (Eds.), Ideas that changed literacy practices: First person accounts from leading voices (Chap. 2). Myers Education Press.

Alexander, P. A. & the Disciplined Reading and Learning Research Laboratory (2020). Relational reasoning: The bedrock of integration within and across multiple representations, documents, and perspectives. In P. N. Van Meter, A. List, D. Lombardi, & P. Kendeou (Eds.), Handbook of learning from multiple representations and perspectives (pp. 401-424). Routledge.

Alexander, P. A. (2020). The future of strategy theory. research, and implementation: Roads less traveled. In D. L. Dinsmore, L. K. Fryer, & M. M. Parkinson (Eds.), Handbook of strategies and strategic processing: Conceptualization, measurement, and analysis (pp. 406-423). Routledge. chapters/10.4324/9780429423635-25

Special Issue Editorships

Alexander, P. A., & Lombardi, D. (2023). Navigating the murky waters of higher-order, critical, and critical-analytic thinking. [Special Issue] Educational Psychology Review, 35.

Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, O., Alexander, P. A., & Pellegrino, J. W. (2021). Assessing information processing and online reasoning as a prerequisite for learning in higher education. [Special Issue] Frontiers in Education.

Special Issue Contributions and Invited Papers (Refereed)

Alexander, P. A., & Murphy, P. K. (in press). Evolution of a learning theory: In praise of scientific speculation. Educational Psychology Review.

Alexander, P. A. (in press). Hybridizing psychological theories: Weighing the ends against the means. Educational Psychology Review.

Alexander, P. A. (2023). “Here Be Dragons!” Mapping the realm of higher-order, critical, and critical-analytic thinking. Educational Psychology Review, 35(42).

Alexander, P. A., Fusenig, J., Schoute, E., Singh, A., Sun, Y., & van Meerten, J. E. (2023). Confronting the challenges of undergraduates’ argumentation writing in a “learning how to learn” course." Written Communication, 40(2) 482–517.

Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, O., Alexander, P. A., & Pellegrino, J. W. (2022). Editorial: Assessing information processing and online reasoning as a prerequisite for learning in higher education. Frontiers in Education7.

Steehler, A., Pettitt-Schieber, B., & Alexander, P. A. (2022). The smart use of smart technologies in teaching and learning: Where we are and where we need to be. Ear, Nose, and Throat Journal, 101(9), 29S-36S. https://doi:10.1177/01455613231154037

Alexander, P. A., Gans, N., & Maki, A. J. K. (2022). Relational reasoning in tertiary education: What is its value and how can it be assessed and trained? Frontiers in Education, 7, p. 317.

Chae, S.-E., & Alexander, P. A. (2021). Exploring potential educational and social contributors to relational reasoning development: A study of typically- and atypically-schooled adolescents and adults in South Korea. Mind, Brain, and Education, 16(2), 183-192. https://doi.10.1002/MBE.12311

List. A., & Alexander, P. A. (2020). Strategy use in learning from multiple texts: An investigation of the integrative framework of learning from multiple texts. Frontiers in Education, 5:578062.

Alexander, P. A. (2020). What research has revealed about readers’ struggles with comprehension in the digital age: Moving beyond the phonics versus whole language debate. Reading Research Quarterly, 55(S1), S89–S97. https://doi:10.1002/rrq.331

Alexander, P. A., Zhao, H., & Sun, Y. (2020). Spontaneous focusing on what and why? Children’s errors when solving a novel mathematical task and its correspondence to their relational reasoning ability. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 22(4). 332-350.

Alexander, P. A. (January 22, 2020). Finding wisdom in the life of a humble man: Lessons learned from my father. Acquired Wisdom Series, S. Nieto, F. Erickson & P. Winne (Eds.). Education Review, 26.

Refereed Journal Articles

Dumas, D., Forthmann, B., & Alexander, P. A. (in press). Using a Model of Domain Learning to understand the development of creativity. Educational Psychologist

Hattan, C., Alexander, P. A., & Lupo, S. M. (2023). Leveraging what students know to make sense of texts: What the research says about prior knowledge activation. Review of Educational Research. 94(1), 73-111.

Singer-Trakhman, L., Alexander, P. A., & Sun, Y. (2023). Processing multimodal texts in print and digitally on comprehension and calibration. Journal of Experimental Education, 91(4), 599-620.

Rahman, T., Chae, S.-E., & Alexander, P. A. (2022). Reader attributes, task attributes, and reading comprehension proficiency: The relation revealed by two analytic approaches. Reading Psychology, 43(7), 495-522.

Dinsmore, D. L, Zoellner, B. P., Grange, C., & Alexander, P. A. (2022). Profiles of experts’ cognitive and metacognitive processing during performance of a novel problem-solving task. Journal of Expertise.

Singh, A., & Alexander, P. A. (2022). Audiobooks, print, and comprehension: What we know and what we need to know. Educational Psychology Review. 34, 677–715.

Hattan, C., & Alexander, P. A. (2021). The effects of knowledge activation training on rural middle-school students’ expository text comprehension: A mixed-methods study. Journal of Educational Psychology. 113(5), 879–897.

Van Peppen, L., van Gog, T., Verkoeijen, P. P. J. L., & Alexander, P. A. (2021). Identifying obstacles to transfer of critical thinking skills. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 34(2), 261-288.

Chae, S.-E., & Alexander, P. A. (2021). The development of relational reasoning in South Korean elementary and middle-school students: A cross-sectional investigation. Frontiers in Psychology: Cognition. 12, 466. https://doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.630609

Zhao, H., Alexander, P. A., & Sun, Y. (2021). Relational reasoning’s contributions to mathematical thinking and performance in Chinese elementary and middle-school students. Journal of Educational Psychology. 113(2), 279-303.

Kavousi, S., Miller, P., & Alexander, P. A. (2020). The role of metacognition in the first-year design lab. Educational Technology Research and Development, 68, 3471-3494.

Kavousi, S., Miller, P., & Alexander, P. A. (2020). Modeling metacognition in design thinking and design making. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 30, 709-735

Hattan, C., & Alexander, P. A. (2020). Prior knowledge activation in elementary classroom discourse. Reading and Writing, 33, 1617-1647.

Alexander, P. A. (2020) Methodological guidance paper: The art and science of quality systematic reviews. Review of Educational Research, 90(1), 6-23.

Grossnickle Peterson, E., & Alexander, P. A. (2020). Navigating print and digital sources: Students’ selection, use, and integration of multiple sources across mediums. Journal of Experimental Education, 88(1), 27-46. https://doi: 10.1080/00220973.2018.1496058




Research Advisor and Project Participant. Critical Online Reasoning in Higher Education. German Research Federation. 2023-2028. 

Research Consultant. Cultivating Innovative Thinking Skills in STEM Education. National Science Foundation: Education & Human Resource. September 2021-August 2024. (# 2120936). Principal Investigator, Sadan Kulturel-Konak. Funded: $286,185.00.

Co-Principal Investigator. Innovative Teaching Grant, University of Maryland Senior Vice President and Provost, 2020-2021. $39000.

Principal Investigator. Improving students' academic writing through video modeling: An intervention. University of Maryland Graduate School, Faculty-Student Research Award (FSRA) 2020-2021. $10,000.

Co-Principal Investigator. Examining the effectiveness of a video-modeling intervention to improve undergraduate’s academic writing in the context of a general education course. Teaching and Learning Transformation Center, FTF Research Seed Grant, January 1 to August 31, 2020. $2700

Research Scientist. Semi-parametric factor analysis for item responses and response times. National Science Foundation: Methodology, Measurement, and Statistics (14-574). Principal Investigator Yang Liu. January 1, 2019-December 31, 2020. Funded $185,314.00.