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. I received my PhD from Carnegie Mellon University's Human-Computer Interaction Institute in the autumn of 2015 and was advised by Dr. Carolyn Rosť. As a Program for Interdisciplinary Education Research fellow, I take an interdisciplinary approach to answering research questions, adopting various research methods such as experimental design, protocol analysis, statistical analysis, log analysis, and interviews. My past research focused on applying systemic functional linguistics to analyzing student language in computer-supported collaborative learning contexts and my current work explores how to leverage educational technology to reduce student evaluation anxiety and increase help seeking.

Research Overview

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, Help seeking, Evaluation apprehension, Reputation systems, Motivation and dispositions, Discourse analysis, Conversational agents, Intelligent tutoring systems, Computer-supported collaborative learning.


I can be contacted at ihowley AT cs DOT cmu DOT edu