Yuning Ding


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CATALPA_EduNLP at PragTag-2023
Yuning Ding | Marie Bexte | Andrea Horbach
Proceedings of the 10th Workshop on Argument Mining

This paper describes our contribution to the PragTag-2023 Shared Task. We describe and compare different approaches based on sentence classification, sentence similarity, and sequence tagging. We find that a BERT-based sentence labeling approach integrating positional information outperforms both sequence tagging and SBERT-based sentence classification. We further provide analyses highlighting the potential of combining different approaches.

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Sequence Tagging in EFL Email Texts as Feedback for Language Learners
Yuning Ding | Ruth Trüb | Johanna Fleckenstein | Stefan Keller | Andrea Horbach
Proceedings of the 12th Workshop on NLP for Computer Assisted Language Learning

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Score It All Together: A Multi-Task Learning Study on Automatic Scoring of Argumentative Essays
Yuning Ding | Marie Bexte | Andrea Horbach
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

When scoring argumentative essays in an educational context, not only the presence or absence of certain argumentative elements but also their quality is important. On the recently published student essay dataset PERSUADE, we first show that the automatic scoring of argument quality benefits from additional information about context, writing prompt and argument type. We then explore the different combinations of three tasks: automated span detection, type and quality prediction. Results show that a multi-task learning approach combining the three tasks outperforms sequential approaches that first learn to segment and then predict the quality/type of a segment.


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Don’t Drop the Topic - The Role of the Prompt in Argument Identification in Student Writing
Yuning Ding | Marie Bexte | Andrea Horbach
Proceedings of the 17th Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications (BEA 2022)

In this paper, we explore the role of topic information in student essays from an argument mining perspective. We cluster a recently released corpus through topic modeling into prompts and train argument identification models on different data settings. Results show that, given the same amount of training data, prompt-specific training performs better than cross-prompt training. However, the advantage can be overcome by introducing large amounts of cross-prompt training data.


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Don’t take “nswvtnvakgxpm” for an answer –The surprising vulnerability of automatic content scoring systems to adversarial input
Yuning Ding | Brian Riordan | Andrea Horbach | Aoife Cahill | Torsten Zesch
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Automatic content scoring systems are widely used on short answer tasks to save human effort. However, the use of these systems can invite cheating strategies, such as students writing irrelevant answers in the hopes of gaining at least partial credit. We generate adversarial answers for benchmark content scoring datasets based on different methods of increasing sophistication and show that even simple methods lead to a surprising decrease in content scoring performance. As an extreme example, up to 60% of adversarial answers generated from random shuffling of words in real answers are accepted by a state-of-the-art scoring system. In addition to analyzing the vulnerabilities of content scoring systems, we examine countermeasures such as adversarial training and show that these measures improve system robustness against adversarial answers considerably but do not suffice to completely solve the problem.

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Chinese Content Scoring: Open-Access Datasets and Features on Different Segmentation Levels
Yuning Ding | Andrea Horbach | Torsten Zesch
Proceedings of the 1st Conference of the Asia-Pacific Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 10th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing

In this paper, we analyse the challenges of Chinese content scoring in comparison to English. As a review of prior work for Chinese content scoring shows a lack of open-access data in the field, we present two short-answer data sets for Chinese. The Chinese Educational Short Answers data set (CESA) contains 1800 student answers for five science-related questions. As a second data set, we collected ASAP-ZH with 942 answers by re-using three existing prompts from the ASAP data set. We adapt a state-of-the-art content scoring system for Chinese and evaluate it in several settings on these data sets. Results show that features on lower segmentation levels such as character n-grams tend to have better performance than features on token level.


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Fine-grained essay scoring of a complex writing task for native speakers
Andrea Horbach | Dirk Scholten-Akoun | Yuning Ding | Torsten Zesch
Proceedings of the 12th Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications

Automatic essay scoring is nowadays successfully used even in high-stakes tests, but this is mainly limited to holistic scoring of learner essays. We present a new dataset of essays written by highly proficient German native speakers that is scored using a fine-grained rubric with the goal to provide detailed feedback. Our experiments with two state-of-the-art scoring systems (a neural and a SVM-based one) show a large drop in performance compared to existing datasets. This demonstrates the need for such datasets that allow to guide research on more elaborate essay scoring methods.

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The Influence of Spelling Errors on Content Scoring Performance
Andrea Horbach | Yuning Ding | Torsten Zesch
Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Natural Language Processing Techniques for Educational Applications (NLPTEA 2017)

Spelling errors occur frequently in educational settings, but their influence on automatic scoring is largely unknown. We therefore investigate the influence of spelling errors on content scoring performance using the example of the ASAP corpus. We conduct an annotation study on the nature of spelling errors in the ASAP dataset and utilize these finding in machine learning experiments that measure the influence of spelling errors on automatic content scoring. Our main finding is that scoring methods using both token and character n-gram features are robust against spelling errors up to the error frequency in ASAP.