Vanessa Svihla


Phone: (505) 750-0263

Physical Address

Room 242
Zimmerman Library

Photo: true

Assistant Professor

Organization, Information and Learning Sciences Program



Personal Website


PhD, Science Education, The University of Texas at Austin

MS, Geology, The University of Texas at Austin


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 innovation 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.

She directs the Interaction and Disciplinary Design in Educational Activity (IDDEA) Lab ( Her research has been supported by the NSF and USDA. She was selected as a 2014 National Academy of Education / Spencer Postdoctoral Scholar.

Dr. Svihla received an MS in Geology and a PhD in Science Education from The University of Texas at Austin. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines (1998-2000), was a post-doctoral scholar in the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley and interned at the Learning in Informal and Formal Environments (LIFE) Center, University of Washington. She previously chaired the American Educational Research Association special interest group, Learning Sciences (2010-2011).

Dr. Svihla also enjoys fashion design and photography, drawing upon these as a source of inspiration for her understanding of designing and creativity.