Friday, May 8, 2015

Looking back: DICTION software

This weekend, the University of Minnesota Morris will graduate more than 300 seniors. At the end of the academic year, I find myself reflecting on some of the great things we've achieved at Morris since the Fall.

This semester, I have been working alongside one of our faculty in her classroom, teaching students the DICTION software package to help them analyze rhetorical texts. DICTION is a computer-aided text analysis program for determining the tone of a verbal message. Conceived by rhetorical analysis scholar Roderick P. Hart, the DICTION software analyzes the words in the speech and does a categorization of each word used. We use five "master" variables to build a "fingerprint" of the speech: Activity, Optimism, Certainty, Realism and Commonality. This provides a jump-start in analysis.

This is rhetorical analysis made easy. DICTION can be used to analyze all sorts of texts: speeches, novels, political ads, inaugural addresses, court opinions, etc. DICTION supports texts in Word, ODT, PDF, and many other file formats. If you can put it into a file, DICTION can analyze it!

During the April 21 open house technology showcase, you probably saw Ron K's demonstration of the DICTION software. I also hosted an April 28 special demonstration of DICTION. If you are interested in using DICTION in your classes or in your research, please feel free to contact me.

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