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Bethany Rittle-Johnson

Professor of Psychology & Human Development

Professor Rittle-Johnson's research focuses on understanding how knowledge change occurs. Her specific interests are in how children learn problem-solving procedures and key concepts in mathematics. For example, what roles do comparison or generating explanations have in promoting learning of concepts and procedures? What early math knowledge supports later math knowledge? This research bridges between psychological theory and educational practice, and Professor Rittle-Johnson also collaborates with teachers and educational researchers to apply and test her research in educational settings.


She describes her research interests and what led to them in a 2015 interview here

Current Research Projects:

Recently Completed Research Projects:

Lab Website

Representative Publications

Rittle-Johnson, B. (in press). Developing mathematics knowledge. Child Development Perspectives. DOI: 10.1111/cdep.12229

Rittle-Johnson, B. Fyfe, E.,* Hofer, K. & Farran, D. (in press). Early Math Trajectories: Low-Income Children’s Mathematics Knowledge from Age 4 to 11. Child Development.  DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12662

Rittle-Johnson, B., & Loehr, A.* (in press). Eliciting Explanations: Constraints on When Self-Explanation Aids Learning. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. DOI 10.3758/s13423-016-1079-5.

Rittle-Johnson, B., Loehr* A., & Durkin, K. (in press). Promoting self-explanation to improve mathematics learning: A meta-analysis and instructional design principles. ZDM Mathematics EducationSpecial Issue: Applying (cognitive) theory-based instructional design principles in mathematics teaching and learning. DOI 10.1007/s11858-017-0834-z

Rittle-Johnson, B. Fyfe, E.,* & Loehr, A.* (2016). The Content of Instruction Within A Mathematics Lesson: Implications for Conceptual and Procedural Knowledge Development. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 86, 576 - 591. DOI:10.1111/bjep.12124

Star, J.R., Rittle-Johnson, B., & Durkin, K. (2016). Comparison and explanation of multiple strategies: One example of a small step forward for improving mathematics education. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 3(2), 151-159.  doi: 10.1177/2372732216655543.

Fyfe, E. R.* & Rittle-Johnson, B. (2016). The benefits of computer-generated feedback for mathematics problem solving. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 147, 140-151. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2016.03.009.

Fyfe, E. R.* & Rittle-Johnson, B. (2016). Feedback both helps and hinders learning: The causal role of prior knowledge. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108(1), 82 – 97. doi: 10.1037/edu0000053

Miller, M.R. ^ , Rittle-Johnson, B., Loehr, A. M.* & Fyfe, E. R.* (2016). The influence of relational knowledge and executive function on preschoolers’ repeating pattern knowledge. Journal of Cognition and Development. 17, 85-104, DOI 10.1080/15248372.2015.1023307

Fyfe, E. R.*, McNeil, N. M. & Rittle-Johnson, B (2015). Easy as ABCABC: Abstract language facilitates performance on a concrete patterning task. Child Development. DOI 10.1111/cdev.12331

Rittle-Johnson, B., Fyfe, E. R.* Loehr, A. M.* & Miller, M.R. ^ (2015). Beyond numeracy in preschool: Adding patterns to the equation. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 31, pp. 101-112. DOI 10.1016/j.ecresq.2015.01.005

Rittle-Johnson, B. Schneider, M. & Star, J. (2015). Not a one-way street: Bi-directional relations between procedural and conceptual knowledge of mathematics. Educational Psychology Review, 27. DOI 10.1007/s10648-015-9302-x

Durkin, K.* & Rittle-Johnson, B. (2014).  Diagnosing misconceptions:  Revealing changing decimal fraction knowledge. Learning and Instruction. DOI 10.1016/j.learninstruc.2014.08.003

Star, J.R., Pollack, C.*, Durkin, K.*, Rittle-Johnson, B., Lynch, K.*, Newton, K., & Gogolen, C.* (2014) Learning from comparison in algebra. Contemporary Educational Psychology.  DOI 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2014.05.005

Rittle-Johnson, B., Fyfe, E. R.*, McLean, L. E.*, McEldoon, K. L.*, (2013). Emerging understanding of patterning in four-year-olds. Journal of Cognition and Development. 14(3), pp. 375-395.  DOI: 10.1080/15248372.2012.689897

DeCaro, M. S.^ & Rittle-Johnson, B. (2012).  Solving math problems prepares students to learn from instruction.  Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 113(4), pp. 552-568. doi 10.1016/j.jecp.2012.06.009

Durkin, K.* & Rittle-Johnson, B. (2012). The effectiveness of using incorrect examples to support learning about decimal magnitude. Learning and Instruction, 22(3), pp. 206-214. doi:10.1016/j.learninstruc.2011.11.001

Schneider, M., Rittle-Johnson, B., & Star, J. (2011). Relations between conceptual knowledge, procedural knowledge, and procedural flexibility in two samples differing in prior knowledge. Developmental Psychology. 47(6), 1525–1538. doi: 10.1037/a0024997

Rittle-Johnson, B., Matthews, P.G.*, Taylor, R.^ & McEldoon, K.* (2011).   Assessing Knowledge of Mathematical Equivalence:  A Construct Modeling Approach.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 103 (1), 85-104. DOI: 10.1037/a0021334

*student (graduate or undergraduate); ^post-doc