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Teomara (Teya) Rutherford

Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology

Poe Hall 602C



Dr. Rutherford is an Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology in TELS. In her research, she takes a social cognitive approach to understanding the barriers to and benefits of implementing digital learning tools in K-12 classrooms. In particular, she focuses on the cognitive skills and motivations that influence implementation and learning.

Research Description

Dr. Rutherford is seeking graduate students (PhD and MS) interested in working on the following projects:

Evaluation for Actionable Change: A Data-Driven Approach, an NSF-funded project (Dr. Rutherford is PI) beginning January 2016. The project team will use data collected within the MIND Research Institute’s ST Math digital learning platform to develop behavior-based techniques to assess student progress within the system as well as to assess the quality of the existing interventions. This research will explore novel methods for detecting, visualizing, and evaluating students’ puzzle-solving and puzzle-selection behaviors. The project team will assess whether the detected patterns are driven by students’ incoming competence and/or can be used to predict their short and long-term performance.

Investigating Virtual Learning Environments, an NSF-funded project housed at the University of California, Irvine (Dr. Rutherford is a Co-PI at NC State) beginning fall 2015. The project studies 50 flipped, hybrid, and online STEM courses offered in a major research university over a five-year period. Experimental and quasi-experimental techniques will be used to compare the impact of virtual courses compared to traditional courses taught by the same instructor on students’ attitudes toward STEM study, learning outcomes, and success and persistence in future STEM courses. Dr. Rutherford’s work on this project focuses on student motivation and persistence in STEM.

Additional work in Dr. Rutherford’s lab includes exploring the cognitive and motivation factors that influence student success in a large-scale field experiment of a digital learning platform, physiological correlates of persistence and motivation in digital environments, and the role of teachers and institutional structures in the implementation and success of educational interventions.


Doctor of Philosophy in Learning, Cognition, and Development from University of California, Irvine in (2014)
Master of Arts in Learning, Cognition, and Development from University of California, Irvine in (2012)
Juris Doctor from Boston University School of Law in (2003)
Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education (Computers in the Classroom) from Florida International University in (1997)


Scholarly Publications

  • Rutherford, T. (2017) The measurement of calibration in real-world contexts. Learning and Instruction, 47, 33-42.
  • Schenke, K., Rutherford, T., Lam, A. C., & Bailey, D. (2016) Construct confounding among predictors of mathematics achievement. AERA Open, 2(2).
  • Rutherford, T. (2015). Emotional well-being and discrepancies between child and parent educational expectations and aspirations in middle and high school. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 20(1), 69-85. doi:10.1080/02673843.2013.767742
  • Simzar, R. M., Martinez, M., Rutherford, T., Domina, T., & Conley, A. M. (2015). Raising the stakes: How students' motivation for mathematics associates with high-and low-stakes test achievement. Learning and Individual Differences, 39, 49-63.
  • Rutherford, T., Farkas, G., Duncan, G., Burchinal, M., Graham, J., Kibrick, M.,…Martinez, M. E. (2014) A randomized trial of an elementary school mathematics software intervention: Spatial-Temporal (ST) Math. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 7(4), 358-383. doi: 10.1080/19345747.2013.856978
  • Schenke, K., Rutherford, T., & Farkas, G. (2014) Alignment of game design features and state mathematics standards: Do results reflect intentions? Computers & Education, 76, 215-224. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2014.03.019

Courses Taught

  • EDP 575 Multicultural Lifespan Development
  • ED 700 Introduction to Research Design
  • ED 709 Educational Psychology Interventions for Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills

Honors and Awards

  • APA Division 15 Pintrich Dissertation Prize
  • UC Educational Evaluation Center Fellow
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow

Research Areas