Modeling Discourse Coherence for the Automated Scoring of Spontaneous Spoken Responses

Xinhao Wang, Keelan Evanini, Klaus Zechner, Matthew Mulholland


This study describes an approach for modeling the discourse coherence of spontaneous spoken responses in the context of automated assessment of non-native speech. Although the measurement of discourse coherence is typically a key metric in human scoring rubrics for assessments of spontaneous spoken language, little prior research has been done to assess a speaker's coherence in the context of automated speech scoring. To address this, we first present a corpus of spoken responses drawn from an assessment of English proficiency that has been annotated for discourse coherence. When adding these discourse annotations as features to an automated speech scoring system, the accuracy in predicting human proficiency scores is improved by 7.8% relative, thus demonstrating the effectiveness of including coherence information in the task of automated scoring of spontaneous speech. We further investigate the use of two different sets of features to automatically model the coherence quality of spontaneous speech, including a set of features originally designed to measure text complexity and a set of surface-based features describing the speaker's use of nouns, pronouns, conjunctions, and discourse connectives in the spoken response. Additional experiments demonstrate that an automated speech scoring system can benefit from coherence scores that are generated automatically using these feature sets.


 DOI: 10.21437/SLaTE.2017-23

Cite as: Wang, X., Evanini, K., Zechner, K., Mulholland, M. (2017) Modeling Discourse Coherence for the Automated Scoring of Spontaneous Spoken Responses. Proc. 7th ISCA Workshop on Speech and Language Technology in Education, 132-137, DOI: 10.21437/SLaTE.2017-23.


@inproceedings{Wang2017,
  author={Xinhao Wang and Keelan Evanini and Klaus Zechner and Matthew Mulholland},
  title={Modeling Discourse Coherence for the Automated Scoring of Spontaneous Spoken Responses},
  year=2017,
  booktitle={Proc. 7th ISCA Workshop on Speech and Language Technology in Education},
  pages={132--137},
  doi={10.21437/SLaTE.2017-23},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SLaTE.2017-23}
}