Title: Automated classification for open-ended questions with BERT
Authors: Jay Gweon - Western University (Canada) [presenting]
Abstract: Manual coding of text data from open-ended questions into different categories is time-consuming and expensive. Automated coding uses statistical/machine learning to train on a small subset of manually coded text answers. Recently, pre-training a general language model on vast amounts of unrelated data and then adapting the model to the specific application has proven effective in natural language processing. Using two data sets, we empirically investigate whether BERT, the currently dominant pre-trained language model, is more effective at automated coding of answers to open-ended questions than other non-pre-trained statistical learning approaches. We found fine-tuning the pre-trained BERT parameters is essential as otherwise, BERT's is not competitive. Second, we found fine-tuned BERT barely beats the non-pre-trained statistical learning approaches in terms of classification accuracy when trained on 100 manually coded observations. However, BERT's relative advantage increases rapidly when more manually coded observations (e.g. 200-400) are available for training. We conclude that for automatically coding answers to open-ended questions, BERT is preferable to non-pre-trained models such as support vector machines and boosting.