Research Seminar: Noureddine Elouazizi

Noureddine Elouazizi, a Strategist and Learning Technologies Team Lead in the Faculty of Science, will present a research seminar on the Integration of Formal Syntax and Natural Language Processing Methods to Create AI-informed Learning Technologies for (Science) Education.


Abstract: The emergence of learning analytics, as a combination of (computational) methods to make sense of the data outputted by learning technologies, is generating much (renewed) interest in NLP methods for creating learning technologies software modules that process and analyze natural language-as-data. In this research seminar, I will focus  on the discussion of the rationale for integrating insights from formal linguistics (e.g. syntax, pragmatics, semantics rules and constraints), natural language processing and machine learning methods to inform the tasks of extracting and interpreting patterns from written language data, and how the resulting output is used to create AI-informed learning technologies for (science) education. Some of the specific tasks we are tackling to enable learning technologies to analyze and interpret written natural language are: (i) identification and evaluation of aspects of writing and argumentation such as: stancing, hedging, mitigating, analyzing, asserting, (ii) identification and evaluation of thesis statements and related supporting facts in a written essay, (iii) automatic extraction, classification and tagging of courses and assessment contents with various (science education-related) taxonomies. I will show how drawing on and integrating insights from formal syntax, not only improves the machine’s outputted automatic analysis, but also makes it cognitively plausible (brings it a bit more closer to that of the humans). I will conclude by the discussion of the challenges we documented with this approach (share the pains) and highlight the gains and emerging opportunities for cross-disciplinary and cross-fertilizing collaborations, and stress the crucial role that formal linguistics (can) play(-s).


Noureddine is affiliated with the UBC Science’s education research and innovation hub at the Science Dean’s Office, Faculty of Science. He is responsible for providing the strategic leadership to manage the learning technologies ecosystem at the Faculty of Science (> 80 learning technologies). Some of his efforts in this role include collaborating and engaging with Science faculty in Learning technologies-mediated science pedagogy innovation and research. Some of the current funded projects/efforts that he is (co-)leading with Science faculty and departments to create home grown AI-informed learning technologies software modules require the integration of machine learning methods, natural language processing methods, and formal linguistics insights (syntax and discourse) to analyze written language data and enable machines to interpret and use such data to support science education technology-mediated tasks. 


*Note: This event is eligible for LOC credit. That said, we remind students to please treat this event respectfully: please attend only if you are able to be present for the entire presentation and discussion (within the posted time limits, i.e. arriving by 12:30 and staying until 1:30), and understand that this is a high-level, research-oriented session. The topic and discussion may not be entirely accessible to those without a fair bit of linguistic training.