Benjamin Chen


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A Transfer Learning Pipeline for Educational Resource Discovery with Application in Survey Generation
Irene Li | Thomas George | Alex Fabbri | Tammy Liao | Benjamin Chen | Rina Kawamura | Richard Zhou | Vanessa Yan | Swapnil Hingmire | Dragomir Radev
Proceedings of the 18th Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications (BEA 2023)

Effective human learning depends on a wide selection of educational materials that align with the learner’s current understanding of the topic. While the Internet has revolutionized human learning or education, a substantial resource accessibility barrier still exists. Namely, the excess of online information can make it challenging to navigate and discover high-quality learning materials in a given subject area. In this paper, we propose an automatic pipeline for building an educational resource discovery system for new domains. The pipeline consists of three main steps: resource searching, feature extraction, and resource classification. We first collect frequent queries from a set of seed documents, and search the web with these queries to obtain candidate resources such as lecture slides and introductory blog posts. Then, we process these resources for BERT-based features and meta-features. Next, we train a tree-based classifier to decide whether they are suitable learning materials. The pipeline achieves F1 scores of 0.94 and 0.82 when evaluated on two similar but novel domains. Finally, we demonstrate how this pipeline can benefit two applications: prerequisite chain learning and leading paragraph generation for surveys. We also release a corpus of 39,728 manually labeled web resources and 659 queries from NLP, Computer Vision (CV), and Statistics (STATS).


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Help! Need Advice on Identifying Advice
Venkata Subrahmanyan Govindarajan | Benjamin Chen | Rebecca Warholic | Katrin Erk | Junyi Jessy Li
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Humans use language to accomplish a wide variety of tasks - asking for and giving advice being one of them. In online advice forums, advice is mixed in with non-advice, like emotional support, and is sometimes stated explicitly, sometimes implicitly. Understanding the language of advice would equip systems with a better grasp of language pragmatics; practically, the ability to identify advice would drastically increase the efficiency of advice-seeking online, as well as advice-giving in natural language generation systems. We present a dataset in English from two Reddit advice forums - r/AskParents and r/needadvice - annotated for whether sentences in posts contain advice or not. Our analysis reveals rich linguistic phenomena in advice discourse. We present preliminary models showing that while pre-trained language models are able to capture advice better than rule-based systems, advice identification is challenging, and we identify directions for future research.