Robert Pasnak

Robert Pasnak

Robert Pasnak


Applied Developmental Psychology: Children and life span development- particularly helping children who lag in cognitive development catch up to their peers.

I earned my M. A. and Ph. D. at The Pennsylvania State University too many years ago to remember. I taught research methods and statistics for many years at the graduate and undergraduate levels, but currently teach primarily child and life span development. I published four books and many research articles.

For the last 40 years I focused on helping children who lag in cognitive development to catch up to their peers. This sometimes involved blind or mentally challenged youngsters, or those with ESL or minority status, but more often it was children who are behind their peers cognitively for no identifiable reason. Instead of the common general enrichment approach, I used "learning set" methods to teach children the key cognitive constructs appropriate for their age. For the constructs I relied partly on Piaget, partly on comparative psychology, and partly on my own insights. Unidimensional classification, unidimensional seriation, and number conservation have proven important for kindergartners. Class inclusion and recognizing patterns - a step up from seriation - is better for 1st graders. The learning set methodology is borrowed from Harlow and Gagne. The synthesis of content and method leads to meaningful gains on IQ tests and in academic achievement that endure for at least a few years, and some gains in self esteem for the children!

This research has been supported by large grants from the Institute of Educational Science. Next year's work will be an ongoing project with 1st graders.



Dissertations Supervised

Ally Patterson, First Graders’ Arithmetic Strategy Choices: A Quantitative Analysis of Predictors and Implementation of a New Behavior Analytic Intervention (2018)

Mandana Kinoshita Mohtasham, Social-emotional Competence, Executive Functioning, and Patterning: Their Relationships and Importance for Child Development (2018)

Katrina Schmerold, The Relation Between Patterning, Executive Function, and Mathematics (2015)

Allison Bock, The Cognitive Components of Patterning: The Relation Between Executive Function and Patterning (2015)