Heather Hill


2022

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Computationally Identifying Funneling and Focusing Questions in Classroom Discourse
Sterling Alic | Dorottya Demszky | Zid Mancenido | Jing Liu | Heather Hill | Dan Jurafsky
Proceedings of the 17th Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications (BEA 2022)

Responsive teaching is a highly effective strategy that promotes student learning. In math classrooms, teachers might {emph{funnel} students towards a normative answer or {emph{focus} students to reflect on their own thinking depending their understanding of math concepts. When teachers focus, they treat students’ contributions as resources for collective sensemaking, and thereby significantly improve students’ achievement and confidence in mathematics. We propose the task of computationally detecting funneling and focusing questions in classroom discourse. We do so by creating and releasing an annotated dataset of 2,348 teacher utterances labeled for funneling and focusing questions, or neither. We introduce supervised and unsupervised approaches to differentiating these questions. Our best model, a supervised RoBERTa model fine-tuned on our dataset, has a strong linear correlation of .76 with human expert labels and with positive educational outcomes, including math instruction quality and student achievement, showing the model’s potential for use in automated teacher feedback tools. Our unsupervised measures show significant but weaker correlations with human labels and outcomes, and they highlight interesting linguistic patterns of funneling and focusing questions. The high performance of the supervised measure indicates its promise for supporting teachers in their instruction.

2021

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Measuring Conversational Uptake: A Case Study on Student-Teacher Interactions
Dorottya Demszky | Jing Liu | Zid Mancenido | Julie Cohen | Heather Hill | Dan Jurafsky | Tatsunori Hashimoto
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

In conversation, uptake happens when a speaker builds on the contribution of their interlocutor by, for example, acknowledging, repeating or reformulating what they have said. In education, teachers’ uptake of student contributions has been linked to higher student achievement. Yet measuring and improving teachers’ uptake at scale is challenging, as existing methods require expensive annotation by experts. We propose a framework for computationally measuring uptake, by (1) releasing a dataset of student-teacher exchanges extracted from US math classroom transcripts annotated for uptake by experts; (2) formalizing uptake as pointwise Jensen-Shannon Divergence (pJSD), estimated via next utterance classification; (3) conducting a linguistically-motivated comparison of different unsupervised measures and (4) correlating these measures with educational outcomes. We find that although repetition captures a significant part of uptake, pJSD outperforms repetition-based baselines, as it is capable of identifying a wider range of uptake phenomena like question answering and reformulation. We apply our uptake measure to three different educational datasets with outcome indicators. Unlike baseline measures, pJSD correlates significantly with instruction quality in all three, providing evidence for its generalizability and for its potential to serve as an automated professional development tool for teachers.