WELCOME. I AM

Nia Dowell

Exploring the world through language and discourse

About me

I am a postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Information and Digital Innovation Greenhouse at the University of Michigan. I completed my PhD at the Institute for Intelligent Systems in the University of Memphis under the advisement of Professor Arthur Graesser.

My primary interests are in cognitive psychology, discourse processing and learning sciences. In general, my research focuses on using language and discourse to uncover the dynamics of socially significant, cognitive, and affective processes. I am currently applying computational techniques to model discourse and social dynamics in a variety of learning environments including intelligent tutoring systems (ITSs), small group computer-mediated collaborative learning environments, and massive open online courses (MOOCs).

My research has also extended beyond the educational and learning sciences spaces and highlighted the practical applications of computational discourse science in the clinical, political and social sciences areas.

Research Program

Computational Discourse Science

Statistical Methods

  • linear and nonlinear modeling
  • multilevel modeling
  • structural equation modeling
  • machine learning

NLP

  • Group Communication Analysis
  • Latent semantic analysis (LSA)
  • Topic modeling / LDA
  • Coh-Metrix
  • LIWC

Theory

  • Discourse Theory
  • Cognitive Science Theory
  • Social Science Theory
26

Publications

31

Conference Presentations

10

Invited Presentations

8

Awards & Honors

Publications

Journal Publications

  • Joksimović, S., Dowell, N. M., Poquet, O., Kovanović, V., Gašević, D., Dawson, S., & Graesser, A. C. (in press). Exploring development of social capital in a cMOOC through language and discourse. Internet and Higher Education.
  • Joksimović, S., Poquet, O., Kovanović, V., Dowell, N. M., Mills, C., Gašević, D., Dawson, S., Graesser, A. C., & Brooks, C. (in press). How do we model learning at scale? A systematic review of the literature. Review of Educational Research.
  • Windsor, L. C., Dowell, N. M., Windsor, A., Kaltner, J., & Graesser, A. C. (in press). Leader language and survival strategies in the Arab Spring. International Interactions.doi: 10.1080/03050629.2017.1345737
  • Dowell, N. M., Graesser, A. C., & Cai, Z. (2017). Language and discourse analysis with Coh-Metrix: Applications from educational material to learning environments at scale. Journal of Learning Analytics, 3(3), 72 – 95. doi: 10.18608/ jla.2016.33.5
  • Rubin, D. C., Deffler, S. A., Ogle, C. M., Dowell, N. M., & Graesser, A. C. (2016). Participant, rater, and computer measures of coherence in posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 125(1), 11-25.
  • Dowell, N. M., & Graesser, A. C. (2015). Modeling learners’ cognitive, affective, and social processes through language and discourse. Journal of Learning Analytics, 1(3), 183-186.
  • Dowell, N. M., Windsor, L., & Graesser, A. (2015). Computational linguistics analysis of leaders during crises in authoritarian regimes. Dynamics of Asymmetrical Conflict, 8(3), 1-12. doi: 10.1080/17467586.2015.1038286
  • Windsor, L., Dowell, N. M., & Graesser, A. (2014) The language of autocrats: Leaders' language in natural crises. Risk, Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy, 5(4), 446-467. doi: 10.1002/rhc3.12068
  • D’Mello, S. K., Dowell, N. M., & Graesser, A. C. (2013). Unimodal and multimodal human perception of naturalistic non-basic affective states during human-computer interactions. IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, 4(4), 452-465. doi:10.1109/T-AFFC.2013.19
  • Dowell, N. M., & Berman, J. (2013). Therapist nonverbal behavior and perceptions of empathy, therapeutic alliance, and treatment credibility. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 23(2), 158-165. doi: 10.1037/a0031421
  • D’Mello, S. K., Dowell, N. M., & Graesser, A. C. (2011). Does it really matter whether students’ contributions are spoken versus typed in an intelligent tutoring system with natural language? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 17(1), 1-17. doi:10.1037/a0022674
  • Graesser, A. C., Dowell, N., & Moldovan, C. (2011). A computer’s understanding of literature. Scientific Studies of Literature, 1(1), 24-33. doi:10.1075/ssol.1.1.03gra

Book Chapters

  • Graesser, A. C., Dowell, N. M., Hampton, A., Lippert, A., Li, H., & Shaffer, D. W. (in press). Building intelligent conversational tutors and mentors for team collaborative problem solving: Lessons from the 2015 program for international student assessment. In J. Johnston, R. Sottilare, A. Sinatra, & S. Burke (Eds.), Building intelligent tutoring systems for teams: What matters. England, U.K.: Emerald.
  • Graesser, A. C., Dowell, N. M., & Clewley, D. (2017). Assessing collaborative problem solving through conversational agents. In A. Von Davier, M. Zhu, & P. C. Kyllonen (Eds.), Innovative assessment of collaboration (pp. 65–80). Springer. Princeton, NJ.

Published Conference Proceedings (Reviewed)

  • Cai, Z., Eagen, B., Dowell, N. M., Pennebaker, J. W., & Graesser, A. C. (2017). Epistemic network analysis and topic modeling for chat data from collaborative learning environment. In X. Hu, T. Barnes, A. Hershkovitz, & L. Paquette (Ed.), Proceeding of the 10th International Conference on Educational Data Mining (pp. 104–111). Wuhan, China: International Educational Data Mining Society.
  • Dowell, N. M., Brooks, C., Kovanović, V., Joksimović, S., & Gašević, D. (2017). The changing patterns of MOOC discourse. In C. Urrea, J. Reich, & C. Thille (Eds.), Proceedings of the Fourth ACM Conference on Learning @ Scale (pp. 283–286). Cambridge, M.A.: ACM
  • Poquet, O., Dawson, S., & Dowell, N. M. (2017). How effective is your facilitation? Group level analytics of MOOC forums. In xx (Ed.), Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (pp. 238–248). Vancouver: ACM.
  • Nixon, T., & Dowell, N. M. (2016). Coh-Metrix in the cloud: lessons from implementing a web-scale text analytics platform. In R. Ferguson, M. Sharkey, & N. Mirriahi (Eds.), Practitioner Track Proceedings of the 6th International Learning Analytics & Knowledge Conference (LAK16) (pp. 45–46). University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK: SoLAR.
  • Dowell, N. M., Skrypnyk, O., Joksimović, S., Graesser, A. C., Dawson, S., Gašević, S., Hennis, T., de Vries, P., & Kovanović, V. (2015). Modeling learners’ social centrality and performance through language and discourse. In C. Romero & M. Pechenizkiy (Eds.), Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Educational Data Mining (pp. 250-257). International Educational Data Mining Society.
  • Joksimović, S., Dowell, N. M., Oleksandra, S., Kovanović, V., Gašević, D., Dawson, S., & Graesser, A. C. (2015). How do you connect? Analysis of social capital accumulation in connectivist MOOCs. In J. Baron, & G. Lynch (Eds.), Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (pp. 64-68). New York: ACM.
  • Cade, W. L., Dowell, N. M., Tausczik, Y. R., Pennebaker, J. W., & Graesser, A. C. (2014). Modeling students socioaffective responses to group interactions in a collaborative online chat environment. In J. Stamper, Z. Pardos, M. Mavrikis, B. M. McLaren (Eds.), Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Educational Data Mining (pp. 399-400). Worcester, MA: International Educational Data Mining Society.
  • Dowell, N. M., Cade, W. L., Tausczik, Y. R., Pennebaker, J. W., & Graesser, A. C. (2014). What works: Creating adaptive and intelligent systems for collaborative learning support. In S. Trausan-Matu, K. E., Boyer, M. Crosby, & K. Panourgia (Eds.), Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems (pp. 124 - 133). Berlin: Springer.
  • Duan, Y., Dowell, N. M., Graesser, A. C., & Li, H. (2014). Linguistic style and social historical context: An automated linguistic analysis of Mao Zedong’s speeches. In W. Eberle & C. Boonthum-Denecke (Eds.) Proceedings of 27th Florida Artificial Intelligence Research Society Conference (pp. 43-46). Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press.
  • Dowell, N. M., D’Mello, S. K., Mills, C., & Graesser, A. C. (2011). Does topic matter? Topic influences on linguistic and rubric-based evaluation of writing. In G. Biswas, S. Bull, J. Kay, & A. Mitrovic (Eds.), Proceedings of 15th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education (pp. 450–452). Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.
  • D’Mello, S. K., Dowell, N. M., & Graesser, A. C. (2009). Cohesion relationships in tutorial dialogue as predictors of affective states. In V. Dimitrova, R. Mizoguchi, B. Du Boulay, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.), Artificial Intelligence in Education: Building Learning Systems that Care: From Knowledge Representation to Affective Modeling (pp. 9-16). Amsterdam, Netherlands: IOS Press.

Under Review & in Preparation Publications

  • Dowell, N. M., Brooks, C., Joksimović, S., Kovanović, V., Waters, Z., & Gašević, D. (under review). The future of educational discourse: Sociotechnical shifts and their impact for educational researchers.
  • Dowell, N. M., Nixon, T., Cai, Z., & Graesser, A. C. (under review). Group communication analysis: A computational-linguistic framework for exploring conversational roles in online multi-party communication.
  • Dowell, N. M., Windsor, L., Germany, M., Iacobelli, F., & Graesser, A. C. (under review). The partisan divide: A computational linguistic analysis of bias in the senate.
  • Joksimović, S., Dowell, N. M., Gašević, D., Mirriahi, N., Dawson, S., & Graesser, A. C. (under review). Linguistic characteristics of reflective states in video annotations under different instructional conditions:A video annotation study.
  • Dowell, N. M., & Brooks, C., (in prep). MOOC Learners aren’t who they use to be: Exploring changes in the MOOC population over time.

Technical Reports and other Publications

  • Dowell, N. M. (2015). Texas teacher quality project: modeling teachers’ cognitive and affective processes through language and discourse. Report for Texas Teacher Quality Program.
  • Graesser, A. C., Dowell, N. M., Li, H., & Cai, Z. (2014). Review of automated measures of language and discourse. Report for private organization.
  • Dowell, N. M., Myers, J., & Graesser, A. (2012, November). Smart language is not smart politics: A computational analysis of the 2012 presidential and vice presidential debates [Web log post]. http://wordwatchers.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/smart-language-is-not-smart-politics-a-computational-analysis-of-the-2012-presidential-and-vice-presidential-debates/

Presentations

Invited Presentations

  • Poquet, O., & Dowell, N. M. (2017, June). Statistical analysis of interdependent observations in learning environments: Exponential random graph modelling (ERGM). Invited Tutorial presented at Learning Analytics Summer Institutes (LASI 2014), Ann Arbor, MI.
  • Dowell, N. M. (2016, October). Group communication analysis: A computational-linguistic framework for exploring conversational roles in online multi-party communication. Invited talk presented at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
  • Dowell, N. M., (2016, March). Modeling discourse and social dynamics of successful collaborative interactions. Invited talk presented at the University of Southern Australia, Adelaide, Australia.
  • Dowell, N. M. (2016, April). Computational discourse science: Applications for emerging learning environments. Invited talk presented at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
  • Dowell, N. M. (2015, July). Computational discourse science with Coh-Metrix. Invited workshop presented at the Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge Research Lab, Arlington, Texas.
  • Dowell, N. M., Cai, Z., & Graesser, A. C. (2014, July). Analyzing language and discourse with Coh-Metrix. Invited Workshop presented at 2nd Learning Analytics Summer Institutes (LASI 2014), Cambridge, MA.
  • Dowell, N. M. (2014, October). What language reveals about you: Modeling learners’ cognitive and social dynamics using Coh-Metrix. Invited talk presented at the University of Oxford, Oxford, England.
  • Dowell, N. M. (2014, October). Modeling discourse and social dynamics in authoritarian regimes. Invited talk presented for University of Lancaster, Lancaster, England.
  • Dowell, N. M. (2011, May). Language and political crisis. Invited talk presented for Federal Bureau of Investigation, Memphis, TN.
  • Dowell, N. M. (2010, June). Language and discourse in education. Invited talk presented for Pearson Education, Memphis, TN.

Conference Presentations

  • Dowell, N. M., Nixon, T., Cai, Z., & Graesser, A. C. (2016, November). Group communication analysis: A computational-linguistic framework for exploring conversational roles in online multi-party communication. Paper presented at the 46th annual meeting of the Society for Computers in Psychology, Boston, MA.
  • Dowell, N. M., & Graesser, A. C. (2015, April). 50 years of text complexity: A Coh-Metrix assessment of changes in first-grade texts over time. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference. Chicago, Illinois.
  • Dowell, N. M., Windsor, L., Germany, M., Iacobelli, F., & Graesser, A. C. (2015, July). The partisan divide: A computational linguistic analysis of bias in the senate. Paper presented at the Society for Text and Discourse, Minneapolis, MN.
  • Cai, Z., Dowell, N. M., Li, H., & Graesser, A. C. (2015, November). Age of acquisition: How do you remember what words you learned at age one? Paper presented at the 45th annual meeting of the Society for Computers in Psychology, Chicago, IL.
  • Windsor, L., Dowell, N. M., & Graesser, A. C. (2015, April) Leaders’ language in the Arab Spring: Using text analysis to explain variation in political outcomes. Arab Spring in Global Context, Iowa City, Iowa.
  • Windsor, L., Dowell, N. M., & Graesser, A. C. (2014, November) Socio-Political and linguistic cohesion. Midwest International Studies Association, St. Louis, MO. [Winner of the Hermann Textual Analysis Award]
  • Dowell, N. M., Windsor, L., Wang, J., Mintz, L., Myers, J. Beaver, D., Hu, X., & Graesser, A. C. (2013, May). The evolution of revolution: Temporal dynamics of social cohesion and casualties during the Syrian Revolution. Poster presented at Institute for Intelligent Systems Student Research Fair, Memphis, TN.
  • Duan, Y., Dowell, N. M., Myers, J., Li, H., & Graesser, A. C. (2013, May). Leadership is influenced by social context: Relationships between the cohesion of Mao Zedong’s speeches and the social-historical context of China. Poster presented at Institute for Intelligent Systems Student Research Fair, Memphis, TN.
  • Myers, J., Dowell, N. M., Mintz, L., & Graesser, A. C. (2013, May). Analysis of linguistic features of U.S. political discourse: Presidential corpus. Poster presented at Institute for Intelligent Systems Student Research Fair, Memphis, TN
  • Windsor, L., Dowell, N. M., Li, H., Myers, J., & Graesser, A. C. (2013, April). The language of autocrats: Leadership through natural disasters. Paper presented at the 71st Annual Midwest Political Science Association Conference, Chicago, IL.
  • Dowell, N. M., Germany, M., Myers, J., & Graesser, A. C. (2012, June). Enduring leaders and their persuasive strategies. Paper presented at the Society for Text and Discourse, Old Montréal, Canada.
  • Deffler, S. A., Ogle, C. M., Dowell, N. M., Graesser, A. C., & Rubin, D. C. (2012, July). Life narratives of adults with and without PTSD: Preliminary findings. Paper presented at the Emory Cognition Project Symposium on Mental Time Travel, Atlanta, GA.
  • Deffler, S. A., Ogle, C. M., Dowell, N. M., Graesser, A. C., & Rubin, D. C. (2011, July). Measures of coherence in life narratives of adults with and without PTSD. Paper presented at the Emory Cognition Project Symposium on Mental Time Travel, Atlanta, GA.
  • Dowell, N. M., Duan, Y., Cai, Z., Hu, X., Louwerse, M., & Graesser, A. C. (2011, July). A linguistic analysis of Fidel Castro’s speeches before and after crisis. Paper presented at the Society for Text and Discourse, Poitiers, France.
  • Dowell, N. M., D’Mello, S. K., Mills, C. S., & Graesser, A. C. (2011, July). Topic effects on linguistic and rubric-based writing evaluation. Paper presented at the Society for Text and Discourse, Poitiers, France.
  • Hancock, J., Beaver, D., Pennebaker, J., Graesser, A. C., Dowell, N. M., Keshtar, F., & Liu, X. (2011, September). Discourse and social dynamics in the Arab Spring. Paper presented at the Second Annual Minerva Conference, Washington, DC.
  • Dowell, N. M., Liu, H., Cai, Z., Hu, X., Louwerse, M., & Graesser, A. C. (2010, July). Linguistic and discourse variation in Chairman Mao Zedong’s speeches. Paper presented at the Society for Text and Discourse, Chicago, IL.
  • Graesser, A. C., Cai, Z., & Dowell, N. M. (2010, January). The computational foundations of language arts. Paper presented at the 23rd International Society for the Empirical Study of Literature, Utrecht, Netherlands.
  • Dowell, N. M., & Berman, J. (2009, July). The effect of therapist nonverbal behaviors on client perceptions. Poster presented at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research, Lacrosse, WI.