Richard Baraniuk


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CLASS: A Design Framework for Building Intelligent Tutoring Systems Based on Learning Science principles
Shashank Sonkar | Naiming Liu | Debshila Mallick | Richard Baraniuk
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

We present a design framework called Conversational Learning with Analytical Step-by-Step Strategies (CLASS) for building advanced Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS) powered by high-performance Large Language Models (LLMs). The CLASS framework empowers ITS with two key capabilities. First, through a carefully curated scaffolding dataset, CLASS equips ITS with essential problem-solving strategies, enabling it to provide tutor-like, step-by-step guidance to students. Second, by using a dynamic conversational dataset, CLASS assists ITS in facilitating natural language interactions, fostering engaging student-tutor conversations. The CLASS framework also provides valuable insights into ITS’s internal decision-making process which allows seamless integration of user feedback, thus enabling continuous refinement and improvement. We also present a proof-of-concept ITS, referred to as SPOCK, which is trained using the CLASS framework with a focus on introductory college level biology content. A carefully constructed protocol was developed for SPOCK’s preliminary evaluation, examining aspects such as the factual accuracy and relevance of its responses. Experts in the field of biology offered favorable remarks, particularly highlighting SPOCK’s capability to break down questions into manageable subproblems and provide encouraging responses to students.

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MultiQG-TI: Towards Question Generation from Multi-modal Sources
Zichao Wang | Richard Baraniuk
Proceedings of the 18th Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications (BEA 2023)

We study the new problem of automatic question generation (QG) from multi-modal sources containing images and texts, significantly expanding the scope of most of the existing work that focuses exclusively on QG from only textual sources. We propose a simple solution for our new problem, called MultiQG-TI, which enables a text-only question generator to process visual input in addition to textual input. Specifically, we leverage an image-to-text model and an optical character recognition model to obtain the textual description of the image and extract any texts in the image, respectively, and then feed them together with the input texts to the question generator. We only fine-tune the question generator while keeping the other components fixed. On the challenging ScienceQA dataset, we demonstrate that MultiQG-TI significantly outperforms ChatGPT with few-shot prompting, despite having hundred-times less trainable parameters. Additional analyses empirically confirm the necessity of both visual and textual signals for QG and show the impact of various modeling choices. Code is available at

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MANER: Mask Augmented Named Entity Recognition for Extreme Low-Resource Languages
Shashank Sonkar | Zichao Wang | Richard Baraniuk
Proceedings of The Fourth Workshop on Simple and Efficient Natural Language Processing (SustaiNLP)


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Open-ended Knowledge Tracing for Computer Science Education
Naiming Liu | Zichao Wang | Richard Baraniuk | Andrew Lan
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

In educational applications, knowledge tracing refers to the problem of estimating students’ time-varying concept/skill mastery level from their past responses to questions and predicting their future performance.One key limitation of most existing knowledge tracing methods is that they treat student responses to questions as binary-valued, i.e., whether they are correct or incorrect. Response correctness analysis/prediction is straightforward, but it ignores important information regarding mastery, especially for open-ended questions.In contrast, exact student responses can provide much more information.In this paper, we conduct the first exploration int open-ended knowledge tracing (OKT) by studying the new task of predicting students’ exact open-ended responses to questions.Our work is grounded in the domain of computer science education with programming questions. We develop an initial solution to the OKT problem, a student knowledge-guided code generation approach, that combines program synthesis methods using language models with student knowledge tracing methods. We also conduct a series of quantitative and qualitative experiments on a real-world student code dataset to validate and demonstrate the promise of OKT.


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Math Word Problem Generation with Mathematical Consistency and Problem Context Constraints
Zichao Wang | Andrew Lan | Richard Baraniuk
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

We study the problem of generating arithmetic math word problems (MWPs) given a math equation that specifies the mathematical computation and a context that specifies the problem scenario. Existing approaches are prone to generating MWPs that are either mathematically invalid or have unsatisfactory language quality. They also either ignore the context or require manual specification of a problem template, which compromises the diversity of the generated MWPs. In this paper, we develop a novel MWP generation approach that leverages i) pre-trained language models and a context keyword selection model to improve the language quality of generated MWPs and ii) an equation consistency constraint for math equations to improve the mathematical validity of the generated MWPs. Extensive quantitative and qualitative experiments on three real-world MWP datasets demonstrate the superior performance of our approach compared to various baselines.


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Attention Word Embedding
Shashank Sonkar | Andrew Waters | Richard Baraniuk
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Word embedding models learn semantically rich vector representations of words and are widely used to initialize natural processing language (NLP) models. The popular continuous bag-of-words (CBOW) model of word2vec learns a vector embedding by masking a given word in a sentence and then using the other words as a context to predict it. A limitation of CBOW is that it equally weights the context words when making a prediction, which is inefficient, since some words have higher predictive value than others. We tackle this inefficiency by introducing the Attention Word Embedding (AWE) model, which integrates the attention mechanism into the CBOW model. We also propose AWE-S, which incorporates subword information. We demonstrate that AWE and AWE-S outperform the state-of-the-art word embedding models both on a variety of word similarity datasets and when used for initialization of NLP models.