Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) Professor of Psychology
Nicole McNeil is the ACE Professor of Psychology. She studies cognitive development, with a primary focus on how children think, learn, and solve problems in the domain of mathematics. She is a highly sought-after invited speaker at universities around the country, and she publishes regularly in top journals such as Child Development, Developmental Psychology, and Journal of Educational Psychology. Her current research, which focuses on children’s understanding of mathematical equivalence, is supported by two grants from the Institute of Educational Sciences (IES) and by a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
McNeil is the recipient of the 2013 Boyd McCandless Award, an early career award given by the American Psychological Association (APA) for distinguished contributions to developmental psychology. She also received the 2007 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the U.S. government’s highest honor recognizing scientists who are at the outset of their careers. A fellow of Notre Dame’s Institute of Educational Initiatives, McNeil is committed to using research in psychology to improve teaching and learning in pre-K—12 schools. She regularly teaches courses in the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) “Service through Teaching” program, and is the director of the Education, Schooling, & Society minor at Notre Dame.
McNeil also serves as the director of the Department of Psychology’s Cognition, Learning, and Development Lab at Notre Dame. The lab is dedicated to the study of cognitive and developmental processes that contribute to children’s understanding (and misunderstanding) of mathematics. This work encompasses several interrelated areas such as numerical representation, symbolic reasoning, concept construction, skill acquisition, and problem solving. The research aims to help parents and teachers determine the best ways to structure learning environments, so all children can be provided with the building blocks necessary for success in school and beyond.
This professorship was established by the University in 1998, with gifts from several anonymous benefactors.