Sam Severance

Sam Severance
PhD Candidate • PhD Candidate

Education 332/334

I believe education has the potential to empower individuals and communities. A desire to bring out this potential has consistently guided my work. In practice, this work has taken the form of seeking to provide people with meaningful educational experiences. Whether as an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer working with people living with HIV/AIDS in the Bay Area of California or as a secondary school science teacher working at a Title I school in Colorado, I have sought to create circumstances where people can achieve meaningful understandings and envision new opportunities and possibilities for themselves and others. I see pursuing a joint doctorate degree and becoming a researcher as a continuation of my past service activities, as a means to not only more fully explore how to achieve the potential of education to bring about positive changes in the community and people's lives but also as an opportunity to more productively share new understandings from these explorations with others.


MA+ Curriculum & Instruction + Secondary Science Licensure, University of Colorado Boulder, 2007
BA Fine Arts - Studio Art, University of Colorado Boulder, 2003
BA Neuroscience, University of California-Santa Cruz, 2002

Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in STEM Education (2014 - 15)

Miramontes Scholar Fellowship Recipient (2012 - 2016)

My research primarily examines how to improve the design and implementation of educative materials. Specifically, I explore how to develop equitable design spaces where K-12 educators and researchers can productively engage in the co-design of innovative science curricular materials. In addition to developing materials that allow for students to experience more meaningful science learning, a key part of this research involves examining how to organize the implementation of such curricular innovations in order to maximize their sustainability and bring their impact to a larger scale. The main research project I currently work on is the Inquiry Hub Project, a research-practice partnership between CU-Boulder and several large urban school districts. Our most recent work involves working with a dedicated team of educators and community organizations to develop a deeply digital Biology curriculum that embodies the vision of the Next Generation Science Standards.

Co-Instructor/Teaching Assistant, EDUC 4112/PSYC 4114, Educational Psychology and Adolescent Development, CU-Boulder (2013)

Science Department Coordinator and 8th Grade Science Teacher, Prairie Middle School, Aurora, CO (2007 - 2012)

Chemistry Teacher, New Vista High School, Boulder, CO (2007)

Student Ambassador for the Educational Psychology & Learning Sciences program (2014 - Present)

Representative for School of Education on the Institute of Cognitive Science Graduate Student Award Committee (2013 - Present)

Severance, S., Penuel, W.R., Sumner, T., & Leary, H. (in revision). Organizing for teacher agency in curricular co-design. Journal of the Learning Sciences.

Leary, H., Severance, S., Penuel, W.R., Quigley, D., Sumner, T., & Devaul, H. (2016). Designing a deeply digital science curriculum: Supporting teacher learning and implementation with organizing technologies. Journal of Science Teacher Education, DOI 10.1007/s10972-016-9452-9.

Johnson, R., Severance, S., Penuel, W.R., & Leary, H. (2016). Teachers, tasks, and tensions: Lessons from a research-practice partnership. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, DOI 10.1007/s10857-015-9338-3.

Severance, S., & Cohen, K.B. (2015). Measuring the readability of medical research journal abstracts. In K.B. Cohen, D. Demner-Fushman, S. Ananiadou, & J. Tsujii (Eds.), Proceedings of the 2015 Workshop on Biomedical Natural Language Processing (BioNLP 2015) (pp. 127–133). Beijing, China: Association for Computational Linguistics.

Severance, S., Leary, H., & Johnson, R. (2014). Tensions in a multi-tiered research-practice partnership. In J.L. Polman, E.A. Kyza, D.K. O’Neill, I. Tabak, W.R. Penuel, A.S. Jurow, K. O’Connor, T. Lee, & L. D’Amico (Eds.), Learning and becoming in practice: The International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2014, Volume 2 (pp. 1171-1175). Boulder, CO: International Society of the Learning Sciences.