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ERIC Number: ED532012
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 137
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1094-0821-8
Towards a Virtual Teaching Assistant to Answer Questions Asked by Students in Introductory Computer Science
Heiner, Cecily
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The University of Utah
Students in introductory programming classes often articulate their questions and information needs incompletely. Consequently, the automatic classification of student questions to provide automated tutorial responses is a challenging problem. This dissertation analyzes 411 questions from an introductory Java programming course by reducing the natural language of the questions to a vector space, and then utilizing cosine similarity to identify similar previous questions. I report classification accuracies between 23% and 56%, obtaining substantial improvements by exploiting domain knowledge (compiler error messages) and educational context (assignment name). My results are especially timely and relevant for online courses where students are completing the same set of assignments asynchronously and access to staff is limited. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A