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PROFILE — Robert Siegler
Click to Enlarge Photo . . . Teresa Heinz Professor of Cog Psychology
Area: Developmental

Contact information:
Psychology office: 331D Baker Hall
Psychology phone: 412-268-2809

Research Interests:

Robert Siegler is Teresa Heinz Professor of Cognitive Psychology. His research focuses on children's thinking, particularly their mathematical and scientific thinking and on improving mathematics education. He has published more than 200 articles and chapters, written 9 books, and edited 5 others. His books have been translated into numerous languages, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, German, French, Greek, and Portuguese.

Dr. Siegler's research focuses on the development of problem solving and reasoning in general and on the more specific topics of how children learn mathematics and how theoretical understanding of mathematical development can be applied to improving the learning of preschoolers from low-income backgrounds. The theoretically oriented research examines how children’s basic representations of numbers influence their ability to learn whole number arithmetic, fractions, and other aspects of mathematics. Among the topics examined within this work are how representations of numbers change with age and experience, types of mathematical experiences that are especially helpful in producing improvements, the strategies that children use to solve mathematical problems, why some children are more mathematically proficient than others, and how children discover new strategies.

This research suggested that certain types of numerical board games would be especially helpful for improving young children’s mathematical understanding. Experimental tests of this prediction have yielded encouraging results; playing these board games yields large, rapid, and enduring gains in preschoolers’ and young elementary school children’s numerical understanding. The gains are especially large with preschoolers from low-income backgrounds. Improving children's understanding of fractions is a current focus of Dr. Siegler's research.

The contribution of Dr. Siegler's research has been recognized in numerous ways. In 2005, he was awarded the American Psychological Association's Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award. In 2006, he received the Brotherton Fellowship from the University of Melbourne (Australia). From 2006-2008, he served on the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, a group asked by the U.S Secretary of Education to recommend ways of improving mathematics education in the U.S. In 2009-2010, Dr. Siegler headed the Fractions Practice Guide Panel for the U.S. Department of Education that was asked to write "Developing Effective Fractions Instruction for Kindergarten through 8th Grade", which can be downloaded from Also in 2009-2010, Dr. Siegler was chosen to be the Tisch Distinguished Visiting Professor at Columbia University. In 2010, Dr. Siegler was elected to the National Academy of Education. In 2012, the Siegler Center for Innovative Learning (SCIL) was established at Beijing Normal University to promote collaboration between Chinese and American leaders, scholars, and practitioners in the field to develop innovative solutions to the educational challenges that both countries face. This is the first center that BNU has named for a foreign scholar. Dr. Siegler also has been invited to give keynote addresses at over 30 conferences, including ones in England, Scotland, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, Switzerland, Japan, China, Chile, Brazil, Australia, Iceland, and the United States.

Click HERE for a partial list of Publications

Research Coordinator for Dr. Siegler:
Terra Treasure (

Postdoctoral Associates:

Drew Bailey (
Hugues Lortie Forgues (

Current Graduate Students:

Rony Patel (

Visiting Scholars:

Ruizhe Liu, Beijing Normal University,
Zhengqing Li, East China Normal University


Related Links:

  • Individual Webpage & CV
  • Program in Interdisciplinary Education Research (PIER)
  • CMU Directory Information