Iris in black and white

About Me

I am a learning scientist and human-computer interaction researcher focusing on enabling students to overcome obstacles to effective participation in their learning process. Currently, I am a post-doctoral researcher in Stanford, California working with the LINK Research Lab at the University of Texas Arlington and the Lytics Lab at Stanford University. I received my B.S. in computer science from Drexel University and my M.S. & PhD from Carnegie Mellon University's Human-Computer Interaction Institute in 2015. My dissertation examined the impact of reputation systems on student help seeking in online course discussion forums.

Research Overview

I take an interdisciplinary approach to answering research questions about learners and technology, adopting various research methods such as experimental design, protocol analysis, statistical analysis, log analysis, and interviews. My current work examines personalized and adaptive learner models, with a focus on personalized learning graphs for student engagement. My past research focused on applying systemic functional linguistics to analyzing student language in computer-supported collaborative learning contexts and more recently leveraging educational technology to reduce student evaluation anxiety and increase help seeking.

My dissertation research examined how to leverage affordances of educational technologies to overcome students' social obstacles to seeking help, with a particular emphasis on common interactional archetypes used in online courses such as up & downvoting, badges, and peer expertise. Many of these features are implemented in online course discussion forums to increase participation, but may have unintended consequences on other student learning-oriented behaviors. By creating help seeking aware design recommendations for the use of reputation systems in online course discussion forums, I hope course designers can maintain the positive aspects of reputation systems while minimizing the potential negative effects.

Research Interests

Online learning, Educational technology, Personalized learning, Adaptive learning, Student engagement and motivation, Help seeking, Evaluation apprehension, Reputation systems, Discourse analysis, Conversational agents, Intelligent tutoring systems, Computer-supported collaborative learning.


I can be contacted at ihowley AT stanford DOT edu