Psychological science has much to contribute to preK-12 education because substantial psychological research exists on the processes of learning, teaching, motivation, classroom management, social interaction, communication, and assessment. This article details the psychological science that led to the identification, by the American Psychological Association's Coalition for Psychology in Schools and Education, of the “Top 20 Principles from Psychology for PreK-12 Teaching and Learning.” Also noted are the major implications for educational practice that follow from the principles.

Reading relies on a left-lateralized network of brain areas that include the pre-lexical processing regions of the ventral stream. Specifically, a region in the left lateral occipitotemporal sulcus (OTS) is consistently more activated for visual presentations of words than for other categories of stimuli. This region undergoes dramatic changes at the functional and structural levels when children learn to read, but little is known about the effects of early cerebral constraints on reading skills. Using anatomical magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated whether the sulcal pattern of the lateral OTS—a stable brain feature—was associated with oral reading skills. The sulcal pattern of the left but not the right lateral OTS was associated with the number of words correctly read in 3 min. This study is the first to evidence that reading is affected by early cerebral constraints, such as the sulcal morphology of the left lateral OTS.

Factors related to grade point average (GPA) are of great importance for students' success. Yet, little is known about the impact of individual differences in emotional reactivity on students' academic performance. We aimed to examine the emotional reactivity–GPA link and to assess whether self-esteem and psychological distress moderate this relationship.

Eighty undergraduate students reported on their GPA, self-esteem, and psychological distress. Students' pupil radius was monitored during affective picture viewing to assess sympathetic activation in response to emotional stimuli. Cluster analysis on pupil reactivity to pictures identified low, average, and high emotionally reactive students. Regression analyses indicated that profiles of emotional reactivity were associated with GPA. This relationship was moderated by self-esteem, but not psychological distress. Among students with higher emotional reactivity, those with lower self-esteem reported poorer GPA. Findings document the importance of differences in students' emotional reactivity and self-esteem in relation to academic success.

The mental number line metaphor describes how numbers are associated with space. These spatial-numerical associations (SNA) are subserved by parietal structures (mainly intraparietal sulcus [IPS] and posterior superior parietal lobule [PSPL]). Generally, it is assumed that this association is a basic cornerstone for arithmetic skills. In this review, we present a taxonomy of SNAs and outline which of them are related to arithmetic skills. Recent research suggests that not all SNAs are related to arithmetic skills; for instance, the spatial-numerical association of response codes (SNARC) is not or at least less related to arithmetic skills than SNAs assessed in the number line estimation task. In general, we conclude that the relationship between SNAs and arithmetic skills are rather weak or caused by mediating variables. Nevertheless, interventions based on relations between space and numbers can be beneficial for arithmetic skills because space is a powerful tool to understand arithmetic concepts.

Recent work has demonstrated that how we process the relative order—ordinality—of numbers may be key to understanding how we represent numbers symbolically, and has proven to be a robust predictor of more sophisticated math skills in both children and adults. However, it remains unclear whether numerical ordinality is primarily a by-product of other numerical processes, such as familiarity with overlearned count sequence, or is in fact a fundamental property of symbolic number processing. In a sample of nearly 1,500 children, we show that the reversed distance effect—a hallmark of symbolic ordinal processing—obtains in children as young as first grade, and is larger for *less* familiar sets of numbers. Furthermore, we show that the children's efficiency in evaluating the simplest ordered sequences (e.g., 2-3-4, 6-7-8) captures more unique variance in mental arithmetic than any other type of numerical sequence, and that this result cannot be accounted for by counting ability. Indeed, performance on just five such trials captured more unique mental arithmetic variance than any of several other numerical tasks assessed here. In sum, our results are consistent with the notion that ordinality is a fundamental property of how children process numerical symbols, that this property helps underpin more complex math processing, and that it shapes numerical processing even at the earliest stages of elementary education.

We used event-related potentials (ERPs) to determine the time course of mechanisms underlying strategy selection. Participants had to select the better strategy on multiplication problems (i.e., 51 × 27) to find approximate products. They could choose between rounding up and rounding down both operands to their nearest decades. Two types of problems were tested, homogeneous problems (e.g., 34 × 61) and heterogeneous problems (e.g., 61 × 36). Homogeneous problems are easier to solve because both operands are close to the lowest or the upper decades. Behavioral data revealed that participants selected the better strategy more often on homogeneous problems. ERPs showed that homogeneous problems elicited more positive cerebral activities than heterogeneous problems in the 0–200 and 800–1,000 ms windows, and more negative cerebral activities than heterogeneous problems in the 400–600 ms window. These findings have important theoretical implications for our understanding of the mechanisms underlying strategy selection.

This event-related fMRI study investigated the differences between learning from examples and learning from verbal directions in mathematical problem solving and how these instruction types affect the activity of relevant brain regions during instruction and solution periods within problem-solving trials. We identified distinct neural signatures during the instruction period of trials. While studying examples, greater activation was found in the prefrontal and parietal regions that were known to be involved in mathematical problem solving. In contrast, while studying verbal directions, increased activation was found in motor and visual regions. These differences, however, disappeared during the solution period. During the solution period, participants showed brain activation patterns like those they displayed while studying an example, regardless of which instruction they learned from. The results suggest instruction type becomes irrelevant after students get to an understanding. Educational implications were discussed with regard to example-based instruction.