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Faculty & Research

Jon R. Star

Professor of Education
Faculty Director, Doctor of Philosophy in Education Program
Faculty Director, Doctor of Education Program

Jon R. Star

Degree:  Ph.D., University of Michigan, (2001)
Email:  [javascript protected email address]
Phone:  617.496.2511
Vitae/CV:   Jon R. Star.pdf
Office:  Gutman 442
Office Hours Contact:  Email the Faculty Member
Faculty Assistant:  Natalie J Solomon


Jon Star is an educational psychologist who studies children's learning of mathematics in middle and high school, particularly algebra. Star's current research explores the development of flexibility in mathematical problem solving, with flexibility defined as knowledge of multiple strategies for solving mathematics problems and the ability to adaptively choose among known strategies on a particular problem. Star also investigates instructional and curricular interventions that may promote the development of mathematical understanding. Star's most recent work is supported by the National Science Foundation. In addition, Star is interested in the preservice preparation of middle and secondary mathematics teachers. Prior to his graduate studies, Star spent six years teaching middle and high school mathematics.

Click here to see a full list of Jon Star's courses.

Areas of Expertise
Sponsored Projects


Understanding the Scalability of Parenting Strategies Designed to Promote Key Virtues (2021-2023)
John Templeton Foundation

Making Caring Common proposes a two-year project to examine the take-up and implementation of evidence-based strategies-- routines, practices and activities-- that support the development of three key virtues in children—empathy, gratitude, and diligence. While parents and caregivers are frequently offered strategies and activities intended to promote these virtues by nonprofit and commercial organizations and parenting experts, rigorous data is distressingly scarce about whether and why parents actually take-up specific strategies and about if and how they use them over time. To answer these questions about usage, we propose to assess various engaging, evidence-based activities, practices, or routines designed to promote these virtues in 7-to-10-year-old children. We will conduct this research with 270 families, each engaging in an evidence-based strategy for eight months (nine strategies, 30 families per strategy).This study will generate vital information about which evidence-based strategies that promote these virtues are more or less likely to be used on a large scale and whether there are demographic and family factors that contribute to which strategies work for whom. While this study focuses mainly on take-up and implementation, we will also collect data on parents’ perceptions of the impact of strategies on both children’s and their own beliefs and behaviors related to the three virtues. We will disseminate our results and activities widely to parents, caregivers, practitioners, and researchers via myriad channels, including reports, blog posts, partnerships with organizations working with parents and caregivers and prominent media outlets such as Cartoon Network and Disney.


Ying, L., Liu, R. D., Star, J. Jia, W., Rui, Z., & Huimin, T. (in press). The effect of perceptual fluency on overcoming the interference of the More A-More B intuitive rule among primary school students. Journal of Educational Psychology.,(forthcoming)

Maciejewski, W., & Star, J.R. (in press). Justifications for choices made in procedures. Educational Studies in Mathematics.,(forthcoming)

Ying, L., Liu, R. D., Star, J. Jia, W., & Huimin, T. (in press). The effect of perceptual fluency on overcoming the interference of the More A-More B intuitive rule among primary school students in a perimeter comparison task: The perspective of cognitive load. European Journal of Psychology of Education.,(forthcoming)

Rittle-Johnson, B., Star, J., Durkin, K. & Loehr, A. (in press). Compare and Discuss to promote deep learning. Manalo, E. (Ed.). Deeper Learning, Communicative Competence, and Critical Thinking: Innovative, Research-Based Strategies for Development in 21st Century Classrooms. New York, NY. Routledge.,(2020)

Ziegler, E., Edelsbrunner, P., & Star, J.R. (2019). Preventing interference: Reordering complexity in the learning of new concepts. Journal of Educational Psychology.,(2019)

Hästö, P., Tuomela, D., Palkki, R., & Star, J. R. (2019). Relationship between mathematical flexibility and success in national examinations. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education 7(1), 1-13.,(2019)

Richey, J., Andres-Bray, J., Mogessie, M., Scruggs, R., Andres, J., Star, J.R., Baker, R., & McLaren, B. (2019). More confusion and frustration, better learning: The impact of erroneous examples. Computers & Education, 139(1), 173-190.,(2019)

Wang, J., Liu, R., Star, J.R., Liu, Y., & Tong, H. (2019). The moderating effect of regulatory focus in the relationship between potential flexibility and practical flexibility. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 56, 218-227.,(2019)

Murray, E., Durkin, K., Chao, T., Star, J.R., & Vig, R. (2018). Exploring connections between content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, and the opportunities to learn mathematics: Findings from the TEDS-M dataset. Mathematics Teacher Education and Development.,(2018)

Liu, R., Wang, J., Star, J.R., Zhen, R., Jiang, R., Fu, X. (2018). Turning potential flexibility into flexible performance: Moderating effect of self-efficacy and use of flexible cognition. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 646.,(2018)

Chen, J.A., Star, J.R., Dede, C., Tutwiler, M.S. (2018). Technology-rich activities: One type does not motivate all. Contemporary Educational Psychology.,(2018)

Joglar, N., Abánades, M., & Star, J.R. (2018, April). Flexibilidad matemática y resolución de ecuaciones lineales. UNO, 080.,(2018)

Star, J. R., & Verschaffel, L. (2017). Providing support for student sense making: Recommendations from cognitive science for the teaching of mathematics. In J. Cai (Ed.), Compendium for Research in Mathematics Education. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.,(2017)

Star, J.R. (2017). When and why replicated studies should be published. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 49(1), 98-103.,(2017)

Xu, L., Liu, R., Star, J.R., Wang, J., Liu, Y., Zhen, R. (2017). Measures of potential flexibility and practical flexibility in equation solving. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1368.,(2017)

Kirschner, P., Verschaffel, L., Star, J.R., & Van Dooren, W. (2017). There is more variation within than across domains: An interview with Paul A. Kirschner about applying cognitive psychology-based instructional design principles in mathematics teaching and learning. ZDM Mathematics Education, 49, 637–643.,(2017)

Rittle-Johnson, B., Star, J.R., & Durkin, K. (2017). The power of comparison in mathematics instruction: Experimental evidence from classrooms. In D. Geary, D. Berch, R. Ochsendorf, & K. Mann Koepke (Eds.), Mathematical Cognition and Learning (Volume 3: Acquisition of Complex Arithmetic Skills and Higher-Order Mathematics Concepts) (pp. 273-295) . Cambridge, MA: Elsevier/Academic Press.,(2017)

Durkin, K., Star, J., Rittle-Johnson, B. (2017). Using comparison of multiple strategies in the mathematics classroom: Lesson learned and next steps. ZDM Mathematics Education, 49, 585-597.,(2017)

Maciejewski, W., & Star, J.R. (2016). Developing flexible procedural knowledge in undergraduate calculus. Research in Mathematics Education, 3, 299-316. doi: 10.1080/14794802.2016.1148626,(2016)

Star, J. R. (2016). Small steps forward: Improving mathematics instruction incrementally. Phi Delta Kappan, 97, 58-62. doi: 10.1177/0031721716641651,(2016)

Star, J.R., & Rittle-Johnson, B. (2016). Toward an educational psychology of mathematics education. In E. Anderman & L. Corno (Eds.), Handbook of Educational Psychology (3rd ed., pp. 257-268). New York: Taylor & Francis.,(2016)

Chao, T., Chen, J., Star, J.R., & Dede, C. (2016). Using digital resources for motivation and engagement in learning mathematics: Reflections from teachers and students. Digital Experiences in Mathematics Education, 2, 253–277.,(2016)

Star, J.R., & Pollack, C. (2015). Inhibitory control and mathematics learning: Definitional and operational considerations. ZDM - The International Journal on Mathematics Education, 47(5), 859-863. doi: 10.1007/s11858-015-0716-1,(2015)

Star, J.R., Pollack, C., Durkin, K., Rittle-Johnson, B., Lynch, K., Newton, K., & Gogolen, C. (2015). Learning from comparison in algebra. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 40, 41-54. doi:,(2015)

Rittle-Johnson, B., Schneider, M., & Star, J.R. (2015). Not a one-way street: Bi-directional relations between procedural and conceptual knowledge of mathematics. Educational Psychology Review, 27(4), 587-597. doi: 10.1007/s10648-015-9302-x,(2015)

Star, J.R., Newton, K., Pollack, C., Kokka, K., Rittle-Johnson, B., & Durkin, K. (2015). Student, teacher, and instructional characteristics related to students' gains in flexibility. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 41, 198-208. doi:,(2015)

Star, J. R., Caronongan, P., Foegen, A., Furgeson, J., Keating, B., Larson, M. R., Lyskawa, J., McCallum, W. G., Porath, J., & Zbiek, R. M. (2014). Teaching Strategies for Improving Algebra Knowledge in Middle and High School Students (NCEE 2014-4333). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.,(2014)

Lynch, K., & Star, J.R. (2014). Teachers' views about multiple strategies in middle and high school mathematics. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 16(2), 85-108. doi: 10.1080/10986065.2014.889501.,(2014)

Lynch, K. & Star, J.R. (2014). Exploring teachers' implementation of comparison in Algebra I. Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 35, 144-163. doi:,(2014)

Star, J.R., Chen, J., Taylor, M., Durkin, K., Dede, C., & Chao, T. (2014). Evaluating technology-based strategies for enhancing motivation in mathematics. International Journal of STEM Education, 1:7. doi:10.1186/2196-7822-1-7.,(2014)

Lynch, K., & Star, J.R. (2014). Views of struggling students on instruction incorporating multiple strategies in Algebra I: An exploratory study. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 45(1), 6-18.,(2014)

Murray, E., & Star, J.R. (2013). What do secondary prospective mathematics teachers need to know? Content courses connecting secondary and tertiary mathematics. Notices of the American Mathematical Society, 60(10), 1297-1299.,(2013)

Star, J.R., & Kokka, K. (2013). Using strategic interruptions to effectively integrate whole class and small group instruction in mathematics. The Mathematics Educator (Singapore), 14 (1&2), 1-20.,(2013)

Star, J.R., & Stylianides, G.J. (2013). Procedural and conceptual knowledge: Exploring the gap between knowledge type and knowledge quality. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education, 13(2), 169-181.,(2013)

Newton, K.J., & Star, J.R. (2013). Exploring the nature and impact of model teaching with worked example pairs. Mathematics Teacher Educator, 2(1), 86-102.,(2013)

Rittle-Johnson, B., Star, J.R., & Durkin, K. (2012). Developing procedural flexibility: When should multiple procedures be introduced? British Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 436-455.,(2012)

Schneider, M., Rittle-Johnson, B., & Star, J.R. (2011). Relations between conceptual knowledge, procedural knowledge, and procedural flexibility in two samples differing in prior knowledge. Developmental Psychology, 47(6), 1525-1538.,(2011)

Yakes, C., & Star, J.R. (2011). Using comparison to develop teachers' flexibility in algebra. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 14, 175-191.,(2011)

Newton, K., Star, J.R., & Lynch, K. (2010). Exploring the development of flexibility in struggling algebra students. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 12(4), 282-305.,(2010)

Star, J.R., Kenyon, M., Joiner, R., & Rittle-Johnson, B. (2010). Comparison helps students learn to be better estimators. Teaching Children Mathematics, 16(9), 557-563.,(2010)

Star, J.R., Kenyon, M., Joiner, R., & Rittle-Johnson, B. (2010). Comparing pays off! Mathematics Teacher, 103(8), 608-612.,(2010)

Rittle-Johnson, B., Star, J.R., & Durkin, K. (2009). The importance of prior knowledge when comparing examples: Impact on conceptual and procedural knowledge of equation solving. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(4), 836-852.,(2009)

Star, J.R., & Newton, K.J. (2009). The nature and development of experts' strategy flexibility for solving equations. ZDM - The International Journal on Mathematics Education, 41, 557-567.,(2009)

Star, J.R., & Rittle-Johnson, B. (2009). Making algebra work: Instructional strategies that deepen student understanding, within and between representations. ERS Spectrum, 27(2), 11-18.,(2009)

Star, J.R., & Rittle-Johnson, B. (2009). It pays to compare: An experimental study on computational estimation. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 102, 408-426.,(2009)

Gersten, R., Beckmann, S., Clarke, B., Foegen, A., Marsh, L., Star, J.R., & Witzel, B. (2009). Assisting students struggling with mathematics: Response to intervention (RtI) for elementary and middle schools (NCEE 2009-4060). Washington, D.C.: National Center on Educational Research, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.,(2009)

Rittle-Johnson, B, & Star, J.R. (2009). Compared to what? The effects of different comparisons on conceptual knowledge and procedural flexibility for equation solving. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(3), 529-544.,(2009)

Star, J.R., & Strickland, S.K. Learning to observe: Using video to improve preservice teachersÂ’ ability to notice. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 11, 107-125.,(2008)

Star, J.R., Smith, J., & Jansen, A. What do students notice as different between reform and traditional mathematics programs? Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 39(1), 9-32.,(2008)

Halpern, D., Aronson, J., Reimer, N. Simpkins, S., Star, J., & Wentzel, K. Encouraging girls in math and science (NCER 2007-2003). Washington, D.C.: National Center on Educational Research, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.,(2007)

Star, J.R. Foregrounding procedural knowledge. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 38(2), 132-135.,(2007)

Rittle-Johnson, B, & Star, J.R. Does comparing solution methods facilitate conceptual and procedural knowledge? An experimental study on learning to solve equations. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99(3), 561-574.,(2007)

Star, J.R., & Seifert, C. The development of flexibility in equation solving. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 31, 280-300.,(2006)

Star, J.R. Reconceptualizing procedural knowledge. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 36(5), 404-411.,(2005)


Editorial Board, Research in Mathematics Education,(2017-present)

Editorial Board, International Journal of STEM Education,(2013-present)

Editorial Board, Contemporary Educational Psychology,(2006-present)

Editorial Board, Journal for Research in Mathematics Education,(2016-2019)

Editorial Board, Journal of Educational Psychology,(2016-2019)

Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences Mathematics and Science Scientific Review Panel,(2014-2017)

Co-Editor, Elementary School Journal,(2012-2017)

Executive Editor, Cognition and Instruction,(2012-2017)

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