Nick
Diana
ndiana@colgate.edu
305 McGregory Hall
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HI I'M NICK

I build and test AI-driven instructional systems that teach students how to engage in productive civil discourse and recognize their own biases. I use these instructional tools to research how political beliefs impact our ability to think rationally about an argument's validity, and believe an intelligent computer agent might be able to help us recognize and mitigate the cognitive biases that reinforce information bubbles and political tribalism.

I received my Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in 2020 (link to my dissertation), and am now an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Colgate University.

NEWS

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PERSUASION INVASION

Civil discourse that fosters democratic goals is a foundational component of any functioning democracy. However, the shrinking civics curriculum leaves very little room to provide students with the practice they need to engage in civil discourse productively. As as result, most political discussions leave both parties feeling angry and frustrated, and often only further entrench both sides deeper into their previously-held beliefs.

In our work, we use educational games to give students the opportunity to practice key civil discourse skills in a safe and scaffolded environment. Our game leverages theories from social psychology alongside data-driven machine learning models to adapt instruction based on the specific political beliefs of each player. We've shown that, for some students, this new kind of Value-Adaptive Instruction can effectively reduce the impact of bias when reasoning about political arguments.

For more information, or to play the game, Click Here!

COMPUTATIONAL THINKING

Even as technology becomes more ubiquitous, the principles and mechanisms that drive that technology remain inaccessible to many citizens. For example, having even a basic understanding of algorithms may inform how we consume content generated by algorithm-based news feeds.

In this work, we use natural language processing to attempt to identify, in a data-driven way, features of programming tasks that may be markers of computational thinking skills. We explore how this automated approach might be deployed in real-time instructor dashboards as a way to track student progress, match poorly performing students to high-performing peers, and map solution spaces.

RECENT PUBLICATIONS

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Fall 2020

COSC 480: Human-Computer Interaction

In this course you will learn how to reliably design user interactions that are satisfying and meaningful, rather than frustrating or ineffectual. This course covers the best methods for discovering what your users actually need or want, and how to design technologies that directly address those needs. We will also cover the role that Human-Computer Interaction can play in augmenting our abilities, connecting us to each other, and increasing our quality of life.

This course is organized around three broad topic areas: 1) human-computer interaction design principles, 2) techniques for designing interactive systems, and 3) techniques for evaluating the efficacy of your designs. Topics include user experience (UX) and interaction design (IxD), needfinding, rapid prototyping, identifying "Dark UX" patterns, cognitive task analysis, affinity diagramming, usability testing, heuristic evaluation, contextual inquiry, user interviews, surveys, wire-framing, and A/B Testing.

COSC 101: Introduction to Computer Science

An introduction to computer science through the study of programming utilizing the programming language Python. Topics include program control, modular design, recursion, fundamental data structures including lists and maps, and a variety of problem-solving techniques.

Past Teaching Experience

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Education

Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction
Carnegie Mellon University, 2015-2020
B.S. in Neuroscience and Psychology
Allegheny College, 2009-2013

Teaching Experience

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Invited Talks

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Technical Proficiencies

Data Analysis: Python (Pandas, Scikit-learn, Statsmodels, Scipy, Gensim), R, Matlab, SPSS, VBA
UI/UX: JavaScript (jQuery, Angular, Vue, Mithral, Node), HTML, PHP, MySQL/MySQLi, CSS

Academic Honors

  • Program for Interdisciplinary Education Research (PIER) Fellowship recipient (2016-Present)
  • Graduated with Psychology Department Honors (2013)
  • Awarded the Iva Patterson Gilmore Prize in Psychology for writing the best psychology senior research composition (2013)

Collaboration

Are you a civics researcher or instructor?

I'm always looking to connect with people doing interesting work.

Contact Me: ndiana@colgate.edu