Prior to coming to Temple, Dr. James P. Byrnes held academic appointments at the University of Michigan and University of Maryland. He is a fellow of Division 15 (Educational Psychology) of the American Psychological Association, 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 80 articles, books, and chapters on several different areas of cognitive development, but is particularly interested in mathematics learning, academic achievement, 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 teaching and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students. His most recent work has 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.

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


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

  • Byrnes, J.P., Miller-Cotto, D., & Wang, A.H. (2018). Children as mediators of their own cognitive development: The case of learning science in kindergarten and first grade. Journal of Cognition and Development, 19(3), pp. 248-277. doi: 10.1080/15248372.2018.1470975

  • Miller-Cotto, D. & Byrnes, J.P. (2016). Ethnic/racial identity and academic achievement: A meta-analytic review. Developmental Review, 41, pp. 51-70. doi: 10.1016/j.dr.2016.06.003

  • Wang, A.H., Firmender, J.M., Power, J.R., & Byrnes, J.P. (2016). Understanding the Program Effectiveness of Early Mathematics Interventions for Prekindergarten and Kindergarten Environments: A Meta-Analytic Review. Early Education and Development, 27(5), pp. 692-713. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2016.1116343

  • 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, pp. 34-51. doi: 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2016.04.002

  • Byrnes, J.P. (2016). Piaget’s cognitive-developmental theory. In The Curated Reference Collection in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology (pp. 543-552). doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-809324-5.23519-0

  • Byrnes, J.P. & Vu, L.T. (2015). Educational neuroscience: definitional, methodological, and interpretive issues. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Cogn Sci, 6(3), pp. 221-234. United States. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1345

  • Byrnes, J.P. & Dunbar, K.N. (2014). The Nature and Development of Critical-Analytic Thinking. Educational Psychology Review, 26(4), pp. 477-493. doi: 10.1007/s10648-014-9284-0

  • Wang, A.H., Shen, F., & Byrnes, J.P. (2013). Does the Opportunity-Propensity Framework predict the early mathematics skills of low-income pre-kindergarten children? Contemporary Educational Psychology, 38(3), pp. 259-270. doi: 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2013.04.004

  • Cromley, J.G. & Byrnes, J.P. (2012). Instruction and cognition. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Cogn Sci, 3(5), pp. 545-553. United States. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1192

  • Bernacki, M.L., Byrnes, J.P., & Cromley, J.G. (2012). The effects of achievement goals and self-regulated learning behaviors on reading comprehension in technology-enhanced learning environments. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 37(2), pp. 148-161. doi: 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2011.12.001

  • Byrnes, J. (2012). Cognitive Development and Information Behavior. In J. Beheshti & A. Large (Eds.), The Information Behavior of a New Generation Children and Teens in the 21st Century. Scarecrow Press.

  • Byrnes, J.P. (2011). Academic Achievement. In Encyclopedia of Adolescence, 1 (pp. 1-9). doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-373951-3.00001-6

  • Bernacki, M.L., Aguilar, A.C., & Byrnes, J.P. (2010). Self-regulated learning and technology-enhanced learning environments: An opportunity-propensity analysis. In Fostering Self-Regulated Learning through ICT (pp. 1-26). doi: 10.4018/978-1-61692-901-5.ch001

  • Byrnes, J.P. & Wasik, B.A. (2009). Factors predictive of mathematics achievement in kindergarten, first and third grades: An opportunity-propensity analysis. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 34(2), pp. 167-183. doi: 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2009.01.002

  • Boyer, T.W. & Byrnes, J.P. (2009). Adolescent risk-taking: Integrating personal, cognitive, and social aspects of judgment. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30(1), pp. 23-33. doi: 10.1016/j.appdev.2008.10.009

  • Byrnes, J.P. (2008). Cognitive Development During Adolescence. In Blackwell Handbook of Adolescence (pp. 227-246). doi: 10.1002/9780470756607.ch11

  • Byrnes, J.P. (2008). Piaget's Cognitive-Developmental Theory. In Encyclopedia of Infant and Early Childhood Development, 1-3 (pp. 543-552). doi: 10.1016/B978-012370877-9.00122-5

  • Byrnes, J.P. & Miller, D.C. (2007). The relative importance of predictors of math and science achievement: An opportunity-propensity analysis. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 32(4), pp. 599-629. doi: 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2006.09.002

  • Byrnes, J.P. (2007). Publishing trends of psychology faculty during their pretenure years. Psychol Sci, 18(4), pp. 283-286. United States. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01889.x

  • Jones, K.K. & Byrnes, J.P. (2006). Characteristics of students who benefit from high-quality mathematics instruction. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 31(3), pp. 328-343. doi: 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2005.10.002

  • Byrnes, J.P. (2005). The development of self-regulated decision making. In The Development of Judgment and Decision Making in Children and Adolescents (pp. 5-38). doi: 10.4324/9781410613660

  • Byrnes, J.P. (2004). Gender differences in math: Cognitive processes in an expanded framework. In Gender Differences in Mathematics: An Integrative Psychological Approach (pp. 73-98). doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511614446.005

  • Byrnes, J.P. (2003). Factors predictive of mathematics achievement in White, Black, and Hispanic 12th graders. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95(2), pp. 316-326. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.95.2.316

  • Byrnes, J.P. (2002). The development of decision-making. J Adolesc Health, 31(6 Suppl), pp. 208-215. United States. doi: 10.1016/s1054-139x(02)00503-7

  • Miller, D.C. & Byrnes, J.P. (2001). Adolescents' decision making in social situations: A self-regulation perspective. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 22(3), pp. 237-256. doi: 10.1016/S0193-3973(01)00082-X

  • Byrnes, J.P. & McNamara, C.C. (2001). Evaluating Doctoral Programs in the Developmental Sciences. Developmental Review, 21(3), pp. 326-354. doi: 10.1006/drev.2000.0527

  • Klaczynski, P.A., Byrnes, J.P., & Jacobs, J.E. (2001). Introduction to the special issue: The development of decision making. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 22(3), pp. 225-236. doi: 10.1016/S0193-3973(01)00081-8

  • Miller, D.C. & Byrnes, J.P. (2001). To achieve or not to achieve: A self-regulation perspective on adolescents' academic decision making. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(4), pp. 677-685. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.93.4.677

  • Wigfield, A. & Byrnes, J.P. (1999). Does Math-Fact Retrieval Explain Sex Differences in Mathematical Test Performance? A Commentary. Contemp Educ Psychol, 24(3), pp. 275-285. United States. doi: 10.1006/ceps.1999.1008

  • Byrnes, J.P., Miller, D.C., & Reynolds, M. (1999). Learning to make good decisions: A self-regulation perspective. Child Development, 70(5), pp. 1121-1140. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.00082

  • Byrnes, J.P., Miller, D.C., & Schafer, W.D. (1999). Gender differences in risk taking: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 125(3), pp. 367-383. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.125.3.367

  • Takahira, S., Goodings, D.J., & Byrnes, J.P. (1998). Retention and performance of male and female engineering students: An examination of academic and environmental variables. Journal of Engineering Education, 87(3), pp. 297-304. doi: 10.1002/j.2168-9830.1998.tb00357.x

  • Byrnes, J.P. & Fox, N.A. (1998). Minds, Brains, and Education: Part II. Responding to the Commentaries. Educational Psychology Review, 10(4), pp. 431-439. doi: 10.1023/A:1022897519643

  • Byrnes, J.P. & Fox, N.A. (1998). The Educational Relevance of Research in Cognitive Neuroscience. Educational Psychology Review, 10(3), pp. 297-342. doi: 10.1023/A:1022145812276

  • Miller, D.C. & Byrnes, J.P. (1997). The role of contextual and personal factors in children's risk taking. Dev Psychol, 33(5), pp. 814-823. United States. doi: 10.1037//0012-1649.33.5.814

  • Byrnes, J.P., Hong, L., & Xing, S. (1997). Gender differences on the math subtest of the scholastic aptitude test may be culture-specific. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 34(1), pp. 49-66. doi: 10.1023/A:1003011300372

  • Byrnes, J.P. (1997). Explaining Citation Counts of Senior Developmental Psychologists. Developmental Review, 17(1), pp. 62-77. doi: 10.1006/drev.1996.0433

  • Byrnes, J.P. (1995). Domain Specificity and the Logic of Using General Ability as an Independent Variable or Covariate. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 41(1), pp. 1-24. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly. Retrieved from

  • Byrnes, J.P. & Torney-Purta, J.V. (1995). Naive Theories and Decision Making as Part of Higher Order Thinking in Social Studies. Theory and Research in Social Education, 23(3), pp. 260-277. doi: 10.1080/00933104.1995.10505757

  • Byrnes, J.P. & McClenny, B. (1994). Decision-making in young adolescents and adults. J Exp Child Psychol, 58(3), pp. 359-388. United States. doi: 10.1006/jecp.1994.1040

  • Byrnes, J.P. & Takahira, S. (1994). Why some students perform well and others perform poorly on sat math items. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 19(1), pp. 63-78. doi: 10.1006/ceps.1994.1007

  • Byrnes, J.P. (1993). Analyzing Perspectives on Rationality and Critical Thinking: A Commentary on the Merrill-Palmer Quarterly Invitational Issue. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 39(1), pp. 159-71. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly. Retrieved from

  • Byrnes, J.P. & Takahira, S. (1993). Explaining Gender Differences on SAT-Math Items. Developmental Psychology, 29(5), pp. 805-810. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.29.5.805

  • Byrnes, J.P. (1992). Categorizing and combining theories of cognitive development and learning. Educational Psychology Review, 4(3), pp. 309-343. doi: 10.1007/BF01417875

  • Byrnes, J.P. & Guthrie, J.T. (1992). Prior conceptual knowledge and textbook search. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 17(1), pp. 8-29. doi: 10.1016/0361-476X(92)90042-W

  • Byrnes, J.P. (1992). The conceptual basis of procedural learning. Cognitive Development, 7(2), pp. 235-257. doi: 10.1016/0885-2014(92)90013-H

  • Byrnes, J.P. & Wasik, B.A. (1991). Role of Conceptual Knowledge in Mathematical Procedural Learning. Developmental Psychology, 27(5), pp. 777-786. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.27.5.777

  • Byrnes, J.P. & Gelman, S.A. (1990). Conceptual and Linguistic Factors in Children's Memory for Causal Expressions. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 13(1), pp. 95-117. doi: 10.1177/016502549001300106

  • Ward, S.L., Byrnes, J.P., & Overton, W.F. (1990). Organization of Knowledge and Conditional Reasoning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(4), pp. 832-837. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.82.4.832

  • Byrnes, J.P. & Duff, M.A. (1989). Young children's comprehension of modal expressions. Cognitive Development, 4(4), pp. 369-387. doi: 10.1016/S0885-2014(89)90049-X

  • Byrnes, J.P. (1988). What's left is closer to right. A response to keating. Developmental Review, 8(4), pp. 385-392. doi: 10.1016/0273-2297(88)90017-2

  • Byrnes, J.P. & Overton, W.F. (1988). Reasoning about logical connectives: A developmental analysis. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 46(2), pp. 194-218. doi: 10.1016/0022-0965(88)90057-4

  • Byrnes, J.P. & Duff, M.A. (1988). Young Children's Comprehension and Production of Causal Expressions. Child Study Journal, 18(2), pp. 101-19. Child Study Journal. Retrieved from

  • Byrnes, J.P. (1988). Formal operations: A systematic reformulation. Developmental Review, 8(1), pp. 66-87. doi: 10.1016/0273-2297(88)90012-3

  • Byrnes, J.P. & Overton, W.F. (1986). Reasoning About Certainty and Uncertainty in Concrete, Causal, and Propositional Contexts. Developmental Psychology, 22(6), pp. 793-799. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.22.6.793

  • Overton, W., Byrnes, J.P., & O'Brien, D.P. (1985). Developmental and Individual Differences in Conditional Reasoning. The Role of Contradiction Training and Cognitive Style. Developmental Psychology, 21(4), pp. 692-701. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.21.4.692

  • Ding, M., Byrnes, J., & Ke, X. Rethinking the role of “quality instruction” in predicting algebraic learning within an opportunity-propensity framework: An exploratory cross-cultural study. Journal of Educational Psychology. American Psychological Association (APA). doi: 10.1037/edu0000767