We study cognitive
development, with a primary focus on how children think, learn,
and solve problems in mathematics. The development
of mathematical thinking presents a paradox. On one hand, young
children (and possibly even infants) have been shown to exhibit
a fairly sophisticated understanding of fundamental math concepts.
On the other hand, math is a notoriously difficult subject to
learn in school, with many children (and adults) failing to achieve
basic competence. In our studies, we investigate cognitive
processes that contribute to people's understanding (and misunderstanding)
of math. Through this work, we seek to uncover mechanisms involved
in the development of quantitative reasoning, symbolic understanding,
and problem solving. Our research has practical implications.
For instance, it may help parents and teachers determine
the best ways to structure the environment, so all children can
be provided with the building blocks necessary for success in
school and beyond. Our research is funded by Institute of Education Sciences and National Science Foundation.