Vanessa Svihla


Phone: 505 750-0263

Physical Address

Room 242
Zimmerman Library

Photo: true

Associate Professor

Organization, Information & Learning Sciences

Research Group Website
Curriculum Vitae


Ph.D, The University of Texas at Austin Science Education, 2009

M.S., The University of Texas at Austin Geological Sciences, 2003

B.A., Smith College, Geology and Russian, 1997


Google Scholar Link

Dr. Vanessa Svihla is a learning scientist, meaning her research seeks to understand how  people learn. Her research focuses on:

  1. How people learn when they design
  2. Ways technology can embed authentic assessment without pausing learning

She is particularly interested in how people find and frame design problems, and how these activities relate to identity, agency, and creativity. She applies a range of research methods (regression modeling, network analysis, interaction analysis, data mining, design-based research) to understand learning in real world, interdisciplinary and Computer-Supported Collaborative settings.

Dr. Svihla was awarded the NSF CAREER award in 2018. Her project, Framing and Reframing Agency in Making and Engineering (FRAME) investigates a new construct, framing agency—having and taking opportunities to make decisions that are consequential to learning and designing. She investigates ways students can develop framing agency, why framing agency matters, and she creates tools for instructors who want to support their students to develop framing agency.

Teaching Interests

  • OILS 601. Advanced Instructional Design, Fall 2014, Fall 2016
  • OILS 543. Instructional Design, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

Research Interests

  • Learning Sciences; Engineering Education; Design Learning; Project-Based Learning; Discipline-Based Education Research; Authentic Assessment; and Research Methods