About Me

Mission Statement and Current Objectives

My career mission statement is to create systemic change in engineering and computers science education. To achieve this mission, I am currently working to build my capacity as an education researcher while coordinating and leading innovation efforts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

About Me

I earned my PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign while conducting engineering education research. I was co-advised by Michael Loui and Craig Zilles to develop an understanding of how students learn topics in computer engineering and then develop a learning assessment tool called the digital logic concept inventory.

I completed two postdocs: one with the Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education at the University of Illinois (iFoundry) and one at Purdue’s School of Engineering Education. With iFoundry I piloted reform projects that centered on improving students’ intrinsic motivation to learn engineering. At Purdue, I worked with Ruth Streveler (in partnership with Shane Brown at Oregon State University and Holly Matusovich at Virginia Tech) to develop a theory of “hot cognition” in engineering – a theory which argues that cognition can be fully understood only by understanding how cognition is directed by motivation.

As a faculty member in Computer Science, I work with the Academy for Excellence in Engineering Education and the Department of Curriculum & Instruction to catalyze change in engineering and computer science education at the University of Illinois. I help lead core college-based change initiatives while continuing my research in students’ conceptual understanding and change about engineering concepts. A list of my project are below.

Contact Info

Severns Teaching Associate Professor, Computer Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
3213 Siebel Center
201 N. Goodwin Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801
Contact E-mail

Research Interests

  • Sustainable education reform
  • Students’ conceptual change in computing and engineering
  • Measurement and assessment
  • Intrinsic motivation to learn



Innovation in Engineering and STEM Education
SIIP_WIDER network
How Students Learn Engineering and Computer Science
Designing Educational Assessment Tools
Intrinsic Motivation Course Conversions