College of Education and Human Development

Department of Educational Psychology

Keisha Varma

  • Associate professor and Office of Equity and Diversity associate vice provost, psychological foundations of education program coordinator

Keisha Varma

Areas of interest

  • Cognitive processes in science learning
  • Scientific visualizations and student learning outcomes
  • Teacher knowledge development and effective teaching practice

PhD, Vanderbilt University



Keisha Varma Research Lab
Scientific Reasoning and Science Learning

My work on scientific reasoning and science learning is classroom-based research that explores ways to enhance middle school students' science learning by supporting their scientific reasoning skills.

Games and Learning Sciences

My current work in this area explores how to use digital and board games to support science learning by providing opportunities for middle school students to engage in scientific practices and practice critical thinking skills related to science learning. Current studies are exploring the relationship between executive function, hypothetico-deductive reasoning exhibited in board games and scientific reasoning.

Read about the work being done by one of my students, Nicolaas VanMeerten.

ESPRIT- Fostering Equitable Science through PaRent Involvement and Technology

This NSF-funded project looks at ways to use a social media learning environment to help mediate the achievement gap by increasing minority and immigrant parent involvement in middle school science education.

GopherMath Parent Engagement Program

GopherMath is a collaboration between Generation Next, Minneapolis Public Schools, and faculty from the Department of Educational Psychology, the Institute for Child Development, and the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, and is led by Kathleen Kramer, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction. For GopherMath, I lead a team designing a new program to help parents from the Somali community better understand how to encourage productive mindsets in learning mathematics. The program helps parents understand why fraction instruction is taught using concrete models and other representations and their role in supporting their children’s education in general.

Research interests

My research program explores the cognitive processes that underlie science learning. In my work, I investigate students’ understanding of complex science concepts and how technology can facilitate science learning. I work at the intersection of educational psychology, cognitive science, and the learning sciences, examining learning and cognition in technology-enhanced classroom settings.


Van Boekel, M., Varma, K., Varma, S. (2016).  A retrieval-based approach to eliminating hindsight bias.  Memory, DOI: 10.1080/09658211.2016.1176202.

Varma, K. & Linn, M.C. (2011). Using interactive technology to support students' understanding of the greenhouse effect and global warming. To appear in Journal of Science Education and Technology.

Gerard, L., Varma, K., Corliss, S.B., & Linn, M.C. (2011). Professional development for technology-enhanced science. Review of Educational Research, 81(3), 408 – 448.

Lee, H., Linn, M.C., Varma, K., & Liu, L. (2010) How Do Technology-Enhanced Inquiry Projects with Visualizations Impact Classroom Learning? Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(1), 71-90.

Clark, D. B., Varma, K., McElhaney, K., & Chiu, J. (2008). Structure and design rationale within TELS projects to support knowledge integration. In D. Robinson and G. Schraw (Eds.), Recent Innovations in Educational Technology that Facilitate Student Learning: Perspectives on Cognition, Learning, and Instruction. Information Age Publishing; Charlotte, NC.

Varma, K., Husic, F., & Linn, M. (2008). Targeted support for using technology –enhanced science inquiry modules. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 17(4), 341-356.