E. Margaret Perkoff


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Comparing Neural Question Generation Architectures for Reading Comprehension
E. Margaret Perkoff | Abhidip Bhattacharyya | Jon Cai | Jie Cao
Proceedings of the 18th Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications (BEA 2023)

In recent decades, there has been a significant push to leverage technology to aid both teachers and students in the classroom. Language processing advancements have been harnessed to provide better tutoring services, automated feedback to teachers, improved peer-to-peer feedback mechanisms, and measures of student comprehension for reading. Automated question generation systems have the potential to significantly reduce teachers’ workload in the latter. In this paper, we compare three differ- ent neural architectures for question generation across two types of reading material: narratives and textbooks. For each architecture, we explore the benefits of including question attributes in the input representation. Our models show that a T5 architecture has the best overall performance, with a RougeL score of 0.536 on a narrative corpus and 0.316 on a textbook corpus. We break down the results by attribute and discover that the attribute can improve the quality of some types of generated questions, including Action and Character, but this is not true for all models.

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Mind the Gap between the Application Track and the Real World
Ananya Ganesh | Jie Cao | E. Margaret Perkoff | Rosy Southwell | Martha Palmer | Katharina Kann
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)

Recent advances in NLP have led to a rise in inter-disciplinary and application-oriented research. While this demonstrates the growing real-world impact of the field, research papers frequently feature experiments that do not account for the complexities of realistic data and environments. To explore the extent of this gap, we investigate the relationship between the real-world motivations described in NLP papers and the models and evaluation which comprise the proposed solution. We first survey papers from the NLP Applications track from ACL 2020 and EMNLP 2020, asking which papers have differences between their stated motivation and their experimental setting, and if so, mention them. We find that many papers fall short of considering real-world input and output conditions due to adopting simplified modeling or evaluation settings. As a case study, we then empirically show that the performance of an educational dialog understanding system deteriorates when used in a realistic classroom environment.


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Dialogue Act Classification for Augmentative and Alternative Communication
E. Margaret Perkoff
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on NLP for Positive Impact

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices and applications are intended to make it easier for individuals with complex communication needs to participate in conversations. However, these devices have low adoption and retention rates. We review prior work with text recommendation systems that have not been successful in mitigating these problems. To address these gaps, we propose applying Dialogue Act classification to AAC conversations. We evaluated the performance of a state of the art model on a limited AAC dataset that was trained on both AAC and non-AAC datasets. The one trained on AAC (accuracy = 38.6%) achieved better performance than that trained on a non-AAC corpus (accuracy = 34.1%). These results reflect the need to incorporate representative datasets in later experiments. We discuss the need to collect more labeled AAC datasets and propose areas of future work.

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Orthographic vs. Semantic Representations for Unsupervised Morphological Paradigm Clustering
E. Margaret Perkoff | Josh Daniels | Alexis Palmer
Proceedings of the 18th SIGMORPHON Workshop on Computational Research in Phonetics, Phonology, and Morphology

This paper presents two different systems for unsupervised clustering of morphological paradigms, in the context of the SIGMORPHON 2021 Shared Task 2. The goal of this task is to correctly cluster words in a given language by their inflectional paradigm, without any previous knowledge of the language and without supervision from labeled data of any sort. The words in a single morphological paradigm are different inflectional variants of an underlying lemma, meaning that the words share a common core meaning. They also - usually - show a high degree of orthographical similarity. Following these intuitions, we investigate KMeans clustering using two different types of word representations: one focusing on orthographical similarity and the other focusing on semantic similarity. Additionally, we discuss the merits of randomly initialized centroids versus pre-defined centroids for clustering. Pre-defined centroids are identified based on either a standard longest common substring algorithm or a connected graph method built off of longest common substring. For all development languages, the character-based embeddings perform similarly to the baseline, and the semantic embeddings perform well below the baseline. Analysis of the systems’ errors suggests that clustering based on orthographic representations is suitable for a wide range of morphological mechanisms, particularly as part of a larger system.