College of Education and Human Development

Department of Educational Psychology

Laura Allen

  • Pronouns: she, her, hers

  • Bonnie Westby Huebner Endowed Chair in Education and Technology

  • Educational Psychology
    250 Education Sciences Bldg.
    56 East River Road
    Minneapolis, MN 55455

Laura Allen

Areas of interest

  • Reading comprehension
  • Writing
  • Computational linguistics
  • Learning analytics
  • Educational technology

PhD, psychology (cognitive science), Arizona State University
MA, psychology (cognitive science), Arizona State University
BA, English, Mississippi State University


My research seeks to understand how individuals most effectively learn and communicate information through text and discourse. This work is guided by the notion that text-based communication is a complex and dynamic process that emerges through interactions across multiple timescales. In line with this view, the development of a comprehensive theory of text-based communication must rely on research that considers the complex nature of the communicative context, such as the knowledge of the individuals and the characteristics of the text. These fundamental assumptions have led me to develop research questions that examine the fine-grained, temporal, and multi-dimensional nature of text comprehension and production. One primary research line has sought to identify the factors that influence students’ ability to learn complex concepts from text, as well as how they develop written arguments based on their knowledge. A second line of research has applied this work to the development and implementation of interventions and educational technologies. Underlying both lines is an emphasis on the use of learning analytics methodologies. Specifically, I often rely on computational linguistics approaches to glean theoretical insights into students’ learning processes as well as to develop and refine adaptive educational technologies.

Awards & recognition:

  • Early Career Impact Award from the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences (FABBS) Foundation
  • Tom Trabasso Young Investigator Award from the Society for Text & Discourse

Allen, L. K., Creer, S., & Öncel, P. (2022). The role of natural language processing in learning analytics. In G. Siemens & C. Lang (Eds.), Handbook of learning analytics and educational data mining (Vol II). Society for Learning Analytics Research.

Allen, L. K., Creer, S., & Poulos, M. (2021). Toward the use of computational linguistics as a model of discourse processing. Language and Linguistics Compass.

Allen, L. K., Graesser, A. C., & McNamara, D. S. (in press). Automated analysis of essays and open-ended verbal responses. In APA Handbook of Research Methods in Psychology, Vol 2. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Allen, L. K., Jacovina, M. E., & McNamara, D. S. (2016). Computer-based writing instruction. In C. A. MacArthur, S. Graham, & J. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Handbook of writing research (2nd ed.) (pp. 316-329). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Allen, L. K., Likens, A. D., & McNamara, D. S. (2019). Writing flexibility in argumentative essays: A multidimensional analysis. Reading and Writing.

Dascalu, M., McNamara, D. S., Trausan-Matu, S., & Allen, L. K. (2017). Cohesion network analysis of CSCL participation. Behavioral Research Methods, 1-16.

Allen, L. K., Snow, E. L., & McNamara, D. S. (2016). The narrative waltz: The role of flexibility on writing performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108, 911-924.

Öncel, P., Creer, S. D., & Allen, L. K. (2022). Seeing through the character’s eyes: Examining phenomenological experiences of perspective-taking during reading. Discourse Processes, 462-480.

Sonia, A., Creer., S., Magliano, J. P., McCarthy, K. S., McNamara, D. S., & Allen, L. K. (2022). Integration in multiple-document comprehension: A natural language processing approach. Discourse Processes, 59(5-6), 417-438

Sonia, A. N., Crossley, S. A., & Allen, L. K. (in press). Writing-reading connections in the digital world. Writing and Reading Connections: Bridging Research and Practice. Guilford Press.