Roman Rietsche


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Unraveling Downstream Gender Bias from Large Language Models: A Study on AI Educational Writing Assistance
Thiemo Wambsganss | Xiaotian Su | Vinitra Swamy | Seyed Neshaei | Roman Rietsche | Tanja Käser
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Large Language Models (LLMs) are increasingly utilized in educational tasks such as providing writing suggestions to students. Despite their potential, LLMs are known to harbor inherent biases which may negatively impact learners. Previous studies have investigated bias in models and data representations separately, neglecting the potential impact of LLM bias on human writing. In this paper, we investigate how bias transfers through an AI writing support pipeline. We conduct a large-scale user study with 231 students writing business case peer reviews in German. Students are divided into five groups with different levels of writing support: one in-classroom group with recommender system feature-based suggestions and four groups recruited from Prolific – a control group with no assistance, two groups with suggestions from fine-tuned GPT-2 and GPT-3 models, and one group with suggestions from pre-trained GPT-3.5. Using GenBit gender bias analysis and Word Embedding Association Tests (WEAT), we evaluate the gender bias at various stages of the pipeline: in reviews written by students, in suggestions generated by the models, and in model embeddings directly. Our results demonstrate that there is no significant difference in gender bias between the resulting peer reviews of groups with and without LLM suggestions. Our research is therefore optimistic about the use of AI writing support in the classroom, showcasing a context where bias in LLMs does not transfer to students’ responses.

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Reviewriter: AI-Generated Instructions For Peer Review Writing
Xiaotian Su | Thiemo Wambsganss | Roman Rietsche | Seyed Parsa Neshaei | Tanja Käser
Proceedings of the 18th Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications (BEA 2023)

Large Language Models (LLMs) offer novel opportunities for educational applications that have the potential to transform traditional learning for students. Despite AI-enhanced applications having the potential to provide personalized learning experiences, more studies are needed on the design of generative AI systems and evidence for using them in real educational settings. In this paper, we design, implement and evaluate \texttt{Reviewriter}, a novel tool to provide students with AI-generated instructions for writing peer reviews in German. Our study identifies three key aspects: a) we provide insights into student needs when writing peer reviews with generative models which we then use to develop a novel system to provide adaptive instructions b) we fine-tune three German language models on a selected corpus of 11,925 student-written peer review texts in German and choose German-GPT2 based on quantitative measures and human evaluation, and c) we evaluate our tool with fourteen students, revealing positive technology acceptance based on quantitative measures. Additionally, the qualitative feedback presents the benefits and limitations of generative AI in peer review writing.


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Bias at a Second Glance: A Deep Dive into Bias for German Educational Peer-Review Data Modeling
Thiemo Wambsganss | Vinitra Swamy | Roman Rietsche | Tanja Käser
Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Natural Language Processing (NLP) has become increasingly utilized to provide adaptivity in educational applications. However, recent research has highlighted a variety of biases in pre-trained language models. While existing studies investigate bias in different domains, they are limited in addressing fine-grained analysis on educational corpora and text that is not English. In this work, we analyze bias across text and through multiple architectures on a corpus of 9,165 German peer-reviews collected from university students over five years. Notably, our corpus includes labels such as helpfulness, quality, and critical aspect ratings from the peer-review recipient as well as demographic attributes. We conduct a Word Embedding Association Test (WEAT) analysis on (1) our collected corpus in connection with the clustered labels, (2) the most common pre-trained German language models (T5, BERT, and GPT-2) and GloVe embeddings, and (3) the language models after fine-tuning on our collected data-set. In contrast to our initial expectations, we found that our collected corpus does not reveal many biases in the co-occurrence analysis or in the GloVe embeddings. However, the pre-trained German language models find substantial conceptual, racial, and gender bias and have significant changes in bias across conceptual and racial axes during fine-tuning on the peer-review data. With our research, we aim to contribute to the fourth UN sustainability goal (quality education) with a novel dataset, an understanding of biases in natural language education data, and the potential harms of not counteracting biases in language models for educational tasks.

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The Specificity and Helpfulness of Peer-to-Peer Feedback in Higher Education
Roman Rietsche | Andrew Caines | Cornelius Schramm | Dominik Pfütze | Paula Buttery
Proceedings of the 17th Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications (BEA 2022)

With the growth of online learning through MOOCs and other educational applications, it has become increasingly difficult for course providers to offer personalized feedback to students. Therefore asking students to provide feedback to each other has become one way to support learning. This peer-to-peer feedback has become increasingly important whether in MOOCs to provide feedback to thousands of students or in large-scale classes at universities. One of the challenges when allowing peer-to-peer feedback is that the feedback should be perceived as helpful, and an import factor determining helpfulness is how specific the feedback is. However, in classes including thousands of students, instructors do not have the resources to check the specificity of every piece of feedback between students. Therefore, we present an automatic classification model to measure sentence specificity in written feedback. The model was trained and tested on student feedback texts written in German where sentences have been labelled as general or specific. We find that we can automatically classify the sentences with an accuracy of 76.7% using a conventional feature-based approach, whereas transfer learning with BERT for German gives a classification accuracy of 81.1%. However, the feature-based approach comes with lower computational costs and preserves human interpretability of the coefficients. In addition we show that specificity of sentences in feedback texts has a weak positive correlation with perceptions of helpfulness. This indicates that specificity is one of the ingredients of good feedback, and invites further investigation.

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A Corpus for Suggestion Mining of German Peer Feedback
Dominik Pfütze | Eva Ritz | Julius Janda | Roman Rietsche
Proceedings of the Thirteenth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

Peer feedback in online education becomes increasingly important to meet the demand for feedback in large scale classes, such as e.g. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). However, students are often not experts in how to write helpful feedback to their fellow students. In this paper, we introduce a corpus compiled from university students’ peer feedback to be able to detect suggestions on how to improve the students’ work and therefore being able to capture peer feedback helpfulness. To the best of our knowledge, this corpus is the first student peer feedback corpus in German which additionally was labelled with a new annotation scheme. The corpus consists of more than 600 written feedback (about 7,500 sentences). The utilisation of the corpus is broadly ranged from Dependency Parsing to Sentiment Analysis to Suggestion Mining, etc. We applied the latter to empirically validate the utility of the new corpus. Suggestion Mining is the extraction of sentences that contain suggestions from unstructured text. In this paper, we present a new annotation scheme to label sentences for Suggestion Mining. Two independent annotators labelled the corpus and achieved an inter-annotator agreement of 0.71. With the help of an expert arbitrator a gold standard was created. An automatic classification using BERT achieved an accuracy of 75.3%.