Marci DeCaro, PhD

Associate Professor


Postdoctoral Fellowship, Vanderbilt University, 2009-2011

PhD, Miami University, 2009

Research Interests

My research program applies theories of attention and working memory to study learning and performance. I examine the comprehensive fit between (a) individual differences (e.g., working memory capacity), (b) the learning or performance environment (e.g., instructional techniques, performance pressure), and (c) task demands (e.g., attention-demanding versus more associative). By considering each of these factors, this research can help us better predict and enhance learning and performance in both laboratory and educational contexts. 

Select Publications

A complete list, and links to full-text versions, can be found on my lab website.

  • DeCaro, M. S. (2018). When does higher working memory capacity help or hinder insight problem solving? In F. Vallee-Tourangeau (Ed.), Current Issues in Thinking and Reasoning. Psychology Press.
  • Weaver, J. P., Chastain, R. J., DeCaro, D. A., & DeCaro, M. S. (2018). Reverse the routine: Problem solving before instruction improves conceptual knowledge in undergraduate physics. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 52, 36-47. doi:10.1016/j.cedpsych.2017.12.003
  • DeCaro, M. S., Van Stockum, C. A. Jr., & Wieth, M. (2017). The relationship between working memory and insight depends on moderators: Reply to Chuderski and Jastrzebski (2017). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43, 2005-2010. doi:10.1037/xlm0000460
  • DeCaro, M. S., and Van Stockum, C. A. Jr. (2017). Ego-depletion improves insight. Thinking and Reasoning. doi:10.1080/13546783.2017.1396253
  • DeCaro, M. S. (2016). Inducing mental set constrains procedural flexibility and conceptual understanding in mathematics. Memory and Cognition, 44, 1138-1148. doi:10.3758/s13421-016-0614-y
  • DeCaro, M. S., Van Stockum, C. A., & Wieth, M. B. (2016). When higher working memory capacity hinders insight. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 42, 39-49. doi:10.1037/xlm0000152
  • Bellinger, D. B., DeCaro, M. S., & Ralston, P. A. S. (2015). Mindfulness, anxiety, and high-stakes mathematics performance in the laboratory and classroom. Consciousness and Cognition, 37, 123-132. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2015.9.001
  • DeCaro, D. A., DeCaro, M. S., & Rittle-Johnson, B. (2015). Achievement motivation and knowledge development during exploratory learning. Learning and Individual Differences, 37, 13-26.
  • DeCaro, M. S., & Rittle-Johnson, B. (2012). Exploring mathematics problems prepares children to learn from instruction. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 113, 552-568.
  • DeCaro, M. S., Thomas, R. D., Albert, N. B., & Beilock, S. L. (2011). Choking under pressure: Multiple routes to skill failure. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 140, 390-406.

Courses Often Taught


    • Experimental Psychology
    • Experimental Psychology (Distance Education)
    • Seminar: Working Memory in Everyday Life
    • Seminar: Applying Cognitive Psychology to Education


    • Cognitive Processes
    • Working Memory
    • Cognition and Education