Automatic Distractor Suggestion for Multiple-Choice Tests Using Concept Embeddings and Information Retrieval

Le An Ha, Victoria Yaneva


Abstract
Developing plausible distractors (wrong answer options) when writing multiple-choice questions has been described as one of the most challenging and time-consuming parts of the item-writing process. In this paper we propose a fully automatic method for generating distractor suggestions for multiple-choice questions used in high-stakes medical exams. The system uses a question stem and the correct answer as an input and produces a list of suggested distractors ranked based on their similarity to the stem and the correct answer. To do this we use a novel approach of combining concept embeddings with information retrieval methods. We frame the evaluation as a prediction task where we aim to “predict” the human-produced distractors used in large sets of medical questions, i.e. if a distractor generated by our system is good enough it is likely to feature among the list of distractors produced by the human item-writers. The results reveal that combining concept embeddings with information retrieval approaches significantly improves the generation of plausible distractors and enables us to match around 1 in 5 of the human-produced distractors. The approach proposed in this paper is generalisable to all scenarios where the distractors refer to concepts.
Anthology ID:
W18-0548
Volume:
Proceedings of the Thirteenth Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications
Month:
June
Year:
2018
Address:
New Orleans, Louisiana
Venues:
BEA | NAACL | WS
SIG:
SIGEDU
Publisher:
Association for Computational Linguistics
Note:
Pages:
389–398
Language:
URL:
https://www.aclweb.org/anthology/W18-0548
DOI:
10.18653/v1/W18-0548
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PDF:
http://aclanthology.lst.uni-saarland.de/W18-0548.pdf