Laura Allen

Office: UNH Psychology, Murkland Hall, Durham, NH 03824
headshot of Laura Allen

Laura Allen joined UNH in 2019 as an assistant professor of psychology. She earned a B.A. in English Literature and Foreign Languages from Mississippi State University (2010), followed by a masters (2015) and Ph.D. from Arizona State University (2017). Dr. Allen then worked for two years as an assistant professor in the Psychology Department at Mississippi State University. The principal aim of her research has been to theoretically and empirically investigate the higher-level cognitive skills that are required for successful text comprehension and production, as well as the ways in which performance in these domains can be enhanced through strategy instruction and training. She has conducted a number of studies to understand how individual differences in cognitive skills and knowledge relate to performance on reading comprehension and writing assessments. This research has revealed numerous characteristics of successful readers and writers, such as their ability to generate inferences, their knowledge of vocabulary, and their ability to flexibly adapt their language across multiple tasks. Further research has endeavored to develop a more specific understanding of these individual differences through multi-dimensional computational analyses of the texts that students produce. This line of empirical research strategies has naturally been accompanied by a second line of work that explores how educational technologies can be leveraged to facilitate learning. For instance, she has recently begun work on the development of the Writing Assessment Tool (WAT), which aims to provide researchers, students, and teachers with automated analyses of writing. The overall goal of this research is to develop a tool that will have a broad impact on current practices in writing research and instruction across multiple dimensions.


  • Ph.D., Arizona State University
  • M.A., Arizona State University
  • B.A., Mississippi State University

Research Interests

  • Applied linguistics and computer assisted language learning
  • Natural Language Processing
  • Persuasive writing
  • Psychology of Reading
  • Reading
  • The Science of Teaching and Learning
  • Writing and reading instruction

Courses Taught

  • PSYC 712W: Psychology of Language
  • PSYC 914: Adv Sem/Cognition

Selected Publications

McNamara, D. S., Jacovina, M., & Allen, L. K. (2019). Individual Differences in Higher Order Thinking in Reading Comprehension.. AERA Online Paper Repository.

Roscoe, R. D., Allen, L. K., & McNamara, D. S. (2019). Contrasting Writing Practice Formats in a Writing Strategy Tutoring System. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 57, 723-754.

Allen, L. K., Likens, A. D., & McNamara, D. S. (2019). Writing flexibility in argumentative essays: a multidimensional analysis. Reading and Writing, 32, 1607-1634.

Allen, L. K., Likens, A. D., & McNamara, D. S. (2019). Modeling the dissemination of misinformation through discourse dynamics. Misinformation and Fake News in Education, 159.

McNamara, D. S., Roscoe, R., Allen, L., & Balyan, R. (2019). Literacy: From the Perspective of Text and Discourse Theory. JOURNAL OF LANGUAGE AND EDUCATION, 5(3), 56-69. doi:10.17323/jle.2019.10196

McNamara, D. S., Allen, L. K., McCarthy, K. S., & Balyan, R. (2018). NLP: Getting Computers to Understand Discourse. In Deep Comprehension (pp. 224-236). Routledge.

McNamara, D. S., & Allen, L. K. (2018). Toward an integrated perspective of writing as a discourse process..

Britt, M. A., Rouet, J. -F., Durik, A. M., Alamargot, D., Chanquoy, L., Albrecht, J. E., . . . others. (2018). Situation models in language comprehension and memory. In Literacy beyond Text Comprehension: A Theory of Purposeful Reading (Vol. 21, pp. xiii-xiv). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Dordrecht.

McCarthy, K. S., Guerrero, T. A., Kent, K. M., Allen, L. K., McNamara, D. S., Chao, S. -F., . . . Sabatini, J. (2018). Comprehension in a Scenario-Based Assessment: Domain and Topic-Specific Background Knowledge. Discourse Processes, 55, 510-524.

Weston-Sementelli, J. L., Allen, L. K., & McNamara, D. S. (2018). Comprehension and writing strategy training improves performance on content-specific source-based writing tasks. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 28, 106-137.

Most Cited Publications