Dowell is the creator of an innovative software known as Group Communication Analysis (GCA). GCA analyzes conversation transcripts on six metrics: general participation; consistency or novelty; responsivity to peers’ contributions; ability to evoke replies; originality in statements; and level of conciseness. The software then identifies individuals as performing one of six roles: Chatterer, Driver, Follower, Lurker, Socially Detached, or Influential Actor.
“Roles are one of the most important concepts in understanding human socio-cognitive behavior,” Dowell said. “The software allows us to understand the underlying human socio-cognitive process.”
Potential applications for GCA range from improving conversations to addressing larger societal issues in group dynamics such as equity and inclusion. (GCA is described in more detail in the fall 2020 issue of the School of Education magazine, Advancing.)
Dowell has already filed a patent and established a corporation for GCA. As a Faculty Innovation Fellow, Dowell’s next steps include making a minimum viable product available and pursuing Small Business Innovation Research funding to help scale the technology and business.
Dowell will also focus on the next stage of translating her scholarship to maximize the social benefit of the software. This will include collaborating with other educational researchers to make the software available at low or no cost for researchers and consulting with EdTech startups and other interested companies to make sure the tools and techniques are well disseminated and can be applied for improving educational, business, and broader societal outcomes.
Dowell’s research foci include cognitive psychology, discourse processing, group interaction, and learning analytics. She is particularly interested in the use of language and discourse to uncover the dynamics of socially significant, cognitive, and affective processes. Her studies highlight the practical applications of computational discourse science in the clinical, political, and social sciences areas.
UCI Beall Applied Innovation will host a virtual recognition ceremony for the 18 new Fellows on January 26 at 1:00 p.m.
Learn more about Applied Innovation here.
Read the Applied Innovation Press Release announcing its Faculty Innovation Fellows here.