Prior to coming to Temple in 2004, Dr. James P. Byrnes held academic appointments at the University of Michigan and University of Maryland. He was elected as a fellow of Division 15 (Educational Psychology) of the American Psychological Association in 2002, has served as vice president of the Jean Piaget Society and served as associate editor of the Journal of Cognition and Development. Dr. Byrnes has published over 100 articles, books, and chapters on several different areas of cognitive development, but is particularly interested in academic skill acquisition (particularly in mathematics, reading, and science), adolescent risk-taking, and critical thinking. He has received grant funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Education. He has received awards for his mentoring and teaching of undergraduate and graduate students, including the Lindback Award. For the past 15 years, he focused on developing and testing a comprehensive model of academic achievement called the opportunity-propensity framework. It is designed to identify the factors responsible for racial and economic achievement gaps in order to provide insight into how to close these gaps using more effective forms of intervention. His more recent focus is on identifying the nature of working memory and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Research Interests

  • Cognitive Processes/Development
  • Mathematics Education
  • Problem Solving

Courses Taught




EDUC 0819

Tweens and Teens


EDUC 8404

Quantitative Analysis, Part I


EDUC 8405

Quantitative Analysis, Part II


EDUC 8506

Cognition and Learning in Education


Selected Publications


  • Miller-Cotto, D. & Byrnes, J.P. (2020). What's the best way to characterize the relationship between working memory and achievement?: An initial examination of competing theories. Journal of Educational Psychology, 112(5), pp. 1074-1084. doi: 10.1037/edu0000395

  • Byrnes, J.P. (2020). The potential utility of an opportunity-propensity framework for understanding individual and group differences in developmental outcomes: A retrospective progress report. Developmental Review, 56. doi: 10.1016/j.dr.2020.100911

  • Byrnes, J.P., Wang, A., & Miller-Cotto, D. (2019). Children as mediators of their own cognitive development in kindergarten. Cognitive Development, 50, pp. 80-97. doi: 10.1016/j.cogdev.2019.03.003