skip to main content

Title: Fantastic Questions and Where to Find Them: FairytaleQA – An Authentic Dataset for Narrative Comprehension
Question answering (QA) is a fundamental means to facilitate assessment and training of narrative comprehension skills for both machines and young children, yet there is scarcity of high-quality QA datasets carefully designed to serve this purpose. In particular, existing datasets rarely distinguish fine-grained reading skills, such as the understanding of varying narrative elements. Drawing on the reading education research, we introduce FairytaleQA, a dataset focusing on narrative comprehension of kindergarten to eighth-grade students. Generated by educational experts based on an evidence-based theoretical framework, FairytaleQA consists of 10,580 explicit and implicit questions derived from 278 children-friendly stories, covering seven types of narrative elements or relations. Our dataset is valuable in two folds: First, we ran existing QA models on our dataset and confirmed that this annotation helps assess models’ fine-grained learning skills. Second, the dataset supports question generation (QG) task in the education domain. Through benchmarking with QG models, we show that the QG model trained on FairytaleQA is capable of asking high-quality and more diverse questions.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)
Page Range / eLocation ID:
447 to 460
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. The recent explosion in question answering research produced a wealth of both factoid reading comprehension (RC) and commonsense reasoning datasets. Combining them presents a different kind of task: deciding not simply whether information is present in the text, but also whether a confident guess could be made for the missing information. We present QuAIL, the first RC dataset to combine text-based, world knowledge and unanswerable questions, and to provide question type annotation that would enable diagnostics of the reasoning strategies by a given QA system. QuAIL contains 15K multi-choice questions for 800 texts in 4 domains. Crucially, it offers both general and text-specific questions, unlikely to be found in pretraining data. We show that QuAIL poses substantial challenges to the current state-of-the-art systems, with a 30% drop in accuracy compared to the most similar existing dataset. 
    more » « less
  2. Synthesizing QA pairs with a question generator (QG) on the target domain has become a popular approach for domain adaptation of question answering (QA) models. Since synthetic questions are often noisy in practice, existing work adapts scores from a pretrained QA (or QG) model as criteria to select high-quality questions. However, these scores do not directly serve the ultimate goal of improving QA performance on the target domain. In this paper, we introduce a novel idea of training a question value estimator (QVE) that directly estimates the usefulness of synthetic questions for improving the target-domain QA performance. By conducting comprehensive experiments, we show that the synthetic questions selected by QVE can help achieve better target-domain QA performance, in comparison with existing techniques. We additionally show that by using such questions and only around 15% of the human annotations on the target domain, we can achieve comparable performance to the fully-supervised baselines. 
    more » « less
  3. Question-answering datasets require a broad set of reasoning skills. We show how to use question decompositions to teach language models these broad reasoning skills in a robust fashion. Specifically, we use widely available QDMR representations to programmatically create hard-to-cheat synthetic contexts for real questions in six multi-step reasoning datasets. These contexts are carefully designed to avoid common reasoning shortcuts prevalent in real contexts that prevent models from learning the right skills. This results in a pretraining dataset, named TeaBReaC, containing 525K multi-step questions (with associated formal programs) covering about 900 reasoning patterns. We show that pretraining standard language models (LMs) on TeaBReaC before fine-tuning them on target datasets improves their performance by up to 13 F1 points across 4 multi-step QA datasets, with up to 21 point gain on more complex questions. The resulting models also demonstrate higher robustness, with a 5-8 F1 point improvement on two contrast sets. Furthermore, TeaBReaC pretraining substantially improves model performance and robustness even when starting with numerate LMs pretrained using recent methods (e.g., PReasM, POET). Our work thus shows how to effectively use decomposition-guided contexts to robustly teach multi-step reasoning. 
    more » « less
  4. Clinical question answering (QA) aims to automatically answer questions from medical professionals based on clinical texts. Studies show that neural QA models trained on one corpus may not generalize well to new clinical texts from a different institute or a different patient group, where large-scale QA pairs are not readily available for model retraining. To address this challenge, we propose a simple yet effective framework, CliniQG4QA, which leverages question generation (QG) to synthesize QA pairs on new clinical contexts and boosts QA models without requiring manual annotations. In order to generate diverse types of questions that are essential for training QA models, we further introduce a seq2seq-based question phrase prediction (QPP) module that can be used together with most existing QG models to diversify the generation. Our comprehensive experiment results show that the QA corpus generated by our framework can improve QA models on the new contexts (up to 8% absolute gain in terms of Exact Match), and that the QPP module plays a crucial role in achieving the gain. 
    more » « less
  5. The ever growing amount of educational content renders it increasingly difficult to manually generate sufficient practice or quiz questions to accompany it. This paper introduces QG-Net, a recurrent neural network-based model specifically designed for automatically generating quiz questions from educational content such as textbooks. QG-Net, when trained on a publicly available, general-purpose question/answer dataset and without further fine-tuning, is capable of generating high quality questions from textbooks, where the content is significantly different from the training data. Indeed, QG-Net outperforms state-of-the-art neural network-based and rules-based systems for question generation, both when evaluated using standard benchmark datasets and when using human evaluators. QG-Net also scales favorably to applications with large amounts of educational content, since its performance improves with the amount of training data. 
    more » « less