Kara Sevensma

Kara Sevensma


MEd, Calvin College, 2007
PhD, Michigan State University, 2013


While other teachers and scholars prefer to navigate straight and steady paths, Dr. Sevensma thrives within the intersections.  Her scholarship examines special education, science education, literacy education, and technology, an intersection only a limited number of scholars have studied.  Dr. Sevensma seeks to constantly increase inclusive practices in schools, specifically examining ways to support students at-risk or labeled with a disability in content-area classrooms.  She asks questions like: What might content-area teachers do to support at-risk readers in their general education classrooms? How are digital technologies creating new opportunities or barriers for at-risk students in content-area classrooms?  As literacy practices shift due to 21st century technologies, how do we ensure that at-risk students are not left behind?

Dr. Sevensma teaches in the Undergraduate and Graduate Education Programs, teaching both more traditional face-to-face courses as well as online courses. In teaching, she strives to help students recognize that making pedagogical choices about curriculum, instructional practices, materials, and more, are always rooted in understanding the context of specific schools, classrooms, and students. Furthermore, she supports students in developing a substantive understanding of conceptual and theoretical frameworks as the foundation for asking critical questions about the curriculum, practices, and materials.  This rich knowledge is combined with hands-on, practical experiences that equip students to confidently and effectively support all learners.

Academic interests

  • Special Education
    • learning disabilities
  • Learning technology
    • assistive technology
  • Graduate Studies in Education


  • “Promoting Digitally Responsible Citizenship: Lessons from Veteran Teachers,” LiteracyDAILY. June 10, 2016.
  • Courtad, C.A, Englert, C.S., Mariage, T., Martin, N., Okolo, C., Sevensma, K., & Shankland, R. (2014). ACCELerating expository literacy in social studies. The Outlook: Learning Disabilities Association of Michigan, 47(3), 3-8. Peer reviewed.
  • K. Sevensma (2014, March 7). Exploring text to speech readers for students with disabilities. (blog post) International Reading Association.


  • Struggling readers and online science websites: A study of at-risk readers online reading comprehension strategies Literacy Research Association. Marriott, Marco Island, FL. 12/04/2014
  • Christian Higher Education Online International Christian Community for Teacher Education. Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ontario. 05/29/2014
  • "New Literacies for the Net Generation: Reading Comprehension in the 21st Century," Council for Exceptional Children National Conference. Grand Hyatt, San Antonio, Texas. 04/05/2013
  • Expanding conceptualizations of online reading comprehension to support at-risk readers International Society for Technology in Education. Grand Hyatt, San Antonio, Texas. 06/25/2013
  • "Introduction to iPads in the elementary classroom," workshop. Grand Haven Christian School, Grand Haven, Michigan. 08/20/2013

Professional services

  • Co-Facilitator of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC): K-12 Teaching in the 21st Century. (2013, Sept. - Oct.) Offered for preservice through inservice teachers by Michigan Virtual University, MI.
  • Co-leader of the How We Learn: Instructional Technology Learning Community. (Co-leaders: Herb Fynewever & Daniel Christian). The Instructional Technology Learning Community (ITLC) will explore the impact of instructional technology on pedagogy and student learning.
  • Attended the Council for Exceptional Children National Conference and specifically attend sessions related to international special education focusing on barriers and opportunities for special education students and teachers related to culture, race, and ethnicity.

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