Dr. Patricia A. Alexander, a College of Education faculty member, has been named a Distinguished University Professor by the University of Maryland. This recognition, the highest appointment bestowed on a tenure track faculty member by the university, is awarded to a limited number of the most accomplished professors each year. Distinguished University Professors are established scholars, held in the highest esteem by professional colleagues nationally and internationally, whose contributions have had a significant impact on their discipline and beyond.
Reflecting the prestige of this appointment, Dr. Alexander, an educational psychologist, is only the second faculty member in the College of Education to receive this award.
“I am honored to have Dr. Alexander on our faculty. She is an exceptional scholar who has profoundly shaped the field of education psychology. Through her generosity as a valued colleague and mentor, she has helped develop and inspire the next generation of researchers in her field,” said College of Education Dean Jennifer King Rice.
One of the most accomplished and impactful scholars at the university, Dr. Alexander has been widely recognized for her excellence in the field of educational psychology.
“Dr. Alexander is a prolific and pioneering scholar whose imprint on education research is wide and deep,” said Dr. Kelly S. Mix, chair of the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology.
The director of the Disciplined Reading and Learning Research Laboratory, Dr. Alexander viewed the appointment as especially significant because of the renewed sense of importance ascribed to the literacy and learning research projects she and her students have underway.
“I cannot tell you how honored I feel to carry the title of Distinguished University Professor. This is unquestionably one of the greatest professional recognitions I could ever hope to receive,” Dr. Alexander said, while also noting the valuable support of Dean Rice, HDQM Chair Mix, and Associate Dean KerryAnn O’Meara in the nomination process.
Her research focuses on academic development and learning, with an emphasis on literacy, reading comprehension and knowledge. She studies how people learn across different subject matters and across the lifespan.
A theoretician, her conceptual work has transformed the field of educational psychology, in particular through her development of the Model of Domain Learning, which took a novel approach to stages of learning in academic subjects; her groundbreaking research on learning through text; and her work on relational reasoning, which is central to intelligence and relates to how people discern patterns in an informational stream.
Her work wrestles with timeless questions, such as we how learn, while engaging with the issues of today’s society, like how a shift to digital reading affects learning.
“In my view, Dr. Alexander is, and has been for the better part of nearly three decades, the undisputed leader of our field and one of the preeminent thinkers and scholars in the field of education as a whole,” wrote Gale M. Sinatra, Stephen H. Crocker Chair of Education at the Rossier School of Education, in her Distinguished University Professor nomination letter.
Extremely prolific, she has been included in lists of the most productive educational psychologists from 1991 to 2014.
Dr. Alexander’s awards and honors include:
- The Sylvia Scribner Award, Division C, American Educational Research Association
- The Edward Lee Thorndike Award for Career Achievement in Educational Psychology, Division 15, American Psychological Association
- Fellow of the American Educational Research Association
- UMD Distinguished Scholar-Teacher
Finally, reflecting her commitment to advancing knowledge within the field and the broader public sphere, Dr. Alexander has delivered more than 100 invited addresses and more than 400 everyday papers at research conferences worldwide, and has been instrumental in mentoring the next generation of scholars in her field.
“Dr. Alexander’s appointment as a Distinguished University Professor, is well-deserved recognition of her vast contributions to the College of Education, the University of Maryland, and the field of educational psychology,” Dean Rice said.