## Research

In the United States, many children from working class or low-income households are gravely aware that one of the ways out of poverty is through education. Numerous jobs that would spur this upward mobility require a foundation in mathematics and science. Unfortunately, many school districts struggle to get students to proficiency in math and science by the the time of their high school graduation, serving as a major roadblock to this possibility. Thus, it is necessary to understand why some students struggle more than others in math and science, how we might provide students with meaningful learning opportunities, and evaluate how these opportunities help students excel.

I am broadly interested in how students learn math and science and how we can use psychological science to improve students' educational experiences. To do this, I employ the Opportunity - Propensity model (Byrnes & Miller-Cotto, 2016) to examine variables, or

Through my research I have identified two important propensity factors related to learning and performance in math and science: students' prior knowledge and their executive function ability. As such, I am particularly interested in the co-development of these two factors and how they promote or inhibit learning. With this in mind, I hope to answer three specific questions:

Papers associated with these lines of work are listed below, with links to these papers in the Publications tab above.

I am broadly interested in how students learn math and science and how we can use psychological science to improve students' educational experiences. To do this, I employ the Opportunity - Propensity model (Byrnes & Miller-Cotto, 2016) to examine variables, or

*opportunities (*e.g. books at home, exposure to math games, reformed instruction) and*propensities*(e.g., prior knowledge, executive functions, motivation)*,*that explain success and struggle in math and science. I use aspects of this theoretical framework to systematically test how opportunities and propensities interact in classrooms to better refine this model through experimental designs and evaluating interventions. In this way, I view my research program as an iterative process: first building and testing theory, then zooming in to empirically test aspects of the theory in isolation, and zooming back out to refine the theory.Through my research I have identified two important propensity factors related to learning and performance in math and science: students' prior knowledge and their executive function ability. As such, I am particularly interested in the co-development of these two factors and how they promote or inhibit learning. With this in mind, I hope to answer three specific questions:

- What educational or home opportunities (a) prime students for learning (b) predict growth in executive functions (c) predict subsequent math and science achievement or achievement more generally?
- What is the nature and the relationship of math ability and executive functions?
- What are the effects of instructional interventions on learning that take executive function capacity in to account?

Papers associated with these lines of work are listed below, with links to these papers in the Publications tab above.

## What educational or home opportunities prime students for learning, predict growth in executive functions, and predict subsequent math and science achievement (or achievement more generally)?

- Byrnes, J.P., Wang, A. H., &
**Miller-Cotto, D**. (2019). Children as mediators of their own cognitive development in kindergarten*.**Cognitive Development, 50,*80-97. - Byrnes, J. P.,
**Miller-Cotto, D**., & Wang, A. H. (2018). Children as mediators of their own development: The case of learning science in kindergarten and first grade.*Journal**of Cognition and Development*,*19,*248 – 277. **Miller-Cotto, D.**, & Byrnes, J. P. (2016). Ethnic/racial identity and academic achievement: A meta-analytic review.*Developmental Review, 41*, 51-70.- Byrnes, J. P., &
**Miller-Cotto, D**. (2016). The growth of mathematics and reading skills in segregated and diverse schools: An opportunity-propensity analysis of a national database.*Contemporary Educational Psychology, 46,*34-51.

## What is the nature and the relationship of math ability and executive functions?

**Miller-Cotto, D.**, & Byrnes, J. P. (revised, resubmitted). What’s the best way to characterize the relationship between working memory and achievement?: An exploration of competing theories.

## What are the effects of math and science interventions on learning that take executive function capacity in to account?

**Miller-Cotto, D.**, & Auxter, A. E. (revised, resubmitted). Testing the ecological validity of faded worked examples in algebra.**Miller-Cotto, D.**, Booth, J. L., Chang, B. L., Cromley, J. G., Newcombe, N. S., & Williams, T.A. (revised, resubmitted). Sketching and verbal self-explanation: Do they help middle school children solve math and science problems?- Barbieri, C. A.,
**Miller-Cotto, D**., & Booth, J. L. (2019). Lessening the load of misconceptions: Design-based principles for algebra learning.*Journal**of the Learning Sciences.*