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 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 has served as President of Division 15 (Educational Psychology) of the American Psychological Association, Vice-President of Division C (Learning and Instruction) of the American Educational Research Association, and Past-President of the Southwest Educational Research Association.  A former middle-school teacher, Dr. Alexander received her reading specialist degree from James Madison University (1979) and her PhD in reading from the University of Maryland (1981).  Since receiving her PhD, Dr. Alexander has published over 300 articles, books, chapters, and monographs in the area of learning and instruction.  She has also presented over 400 papers or invited addresses at national and international conferences.  She currently serves as the senior editor of Contemporary Educational Psychology, was past editor of Instructional Science and Associate Editor of American Educational Research Journal-Teaching, Learning, and Human Development, and presently serves on 14 editorial boards including those for Learning and Instruction, Educational Psychologist, and the Journal of Educational Psychology.

Dr. Alexander is a member of the National Academy of Education, and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Educational Research Association, and the Society for Text and Discourse.  Named one of the five most influential educational psychologists over the past decade, her honors include the Oscar S. Causey Award for outstanding contributions to literacy research from the Literacy Research Association (2001), the E. L. Thorndike Award for Career Achievement in Educational Psychology from APA Division 15 (2006), and the Sylvia Scribner Career Award from AERA Division C (2007).  In addition, she has received various national, university, and college awards for teaching and mentoring.

LabDisciplined Reading and Learning Research Lab (DRLRL)

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


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

(A complete vita can be found at


Chapters in Edited Volumes

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

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). New York: 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). New York: Routledge.…

Alexander, P. A., & Fox, E. (2019). Reading research and practice over the decades: A historical analysis. In D. E. Alvermann, N. J. Unrau, M. Sailors, & R. B. Ruddell (Eds.), Theoretical models and processes of literacy, (7th ed.; pp. 35-64). New York: Routledge.

Refereed Journal Articles

Alexander, P. A. (2019). Engagement and literacy: Reading between the lines. Journal of Research in Reading, 41, 732-739. doi:10.1111/1467-9817.12262

Alexander, P. A. (2019). Individual differences in college-age learners: The importance of relational reasoning for learning and assessment in higher education [Special issue on Performance Assessment of Student Learning in Higher Education]. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 416-428. doi:10.1111/bjep.12264

Alexander, P. A. (2019). Seeking common ground: Surveying the theoretical and empirical landscapes for curiosity and interest. Educational Psychology Review. 31, 897-904 doi:10.1007/s10648-019-09508-x

Alexander, P. A. (2019). The art (and science) of seduction: Why, when, and for whom seductive details matter.  Applied Cognitive Psychology, 33, 142-148.

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

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), pp. S89–S97. https://doi:10.1002/rrq.331

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.

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.

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, 27-46, doi: 10.1080/00220973.2018.1496058

Hattan, C., & Alexander, P. A. (in press). Exploring the effectiveness of relational reasoning prompts on middle school students’ text comprehension. Reading Psychology.

Hattan, C., & Alexander, P. A. (in press). Prior knowledge activation in elementary classroom discourse. Reading and Writing.

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

Jablansky, S., Alexander, P. A., Dumas, D., & Compton, V. (2019). The development of relational reasoning in primary and secondary school students: A longitudinal investigation in technology education. International Journal of Technology and Design Education.

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

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

List, A., & Alexander, P. A. (2019). Toward an integrated framework of multiple text use. Educational Psychologist, 54(1), 20-39.

List, A., Stephens, L. A., & Alexander, P. A. (2019). Examining interest throughout multiple text use. Reading and Writing. 32, 307-333.

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

Singer, L. M., Alexander, P. A., & Berkowitz, L. (2019). Effects of processing time on comprehension and calibration in print and digital mediums. Journal of Experimental Education, 27, 101-115.

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



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.

Principal Investigator. Rethinking large enrollment classes. Teaching and Learning Transformation Center, FTF Research Seed Grant, September 1 to August 1, 2018. $1800.