An Algorithm for Automatic Collation of Vocabulary Decks Based on Word Frequency


IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Information and Systems   Vol.E103-D   No.8   pp.1865-1874
Publication Date: 2020/08/01
Publicized: 2020/05/07
Online ISSN: 1745-1361
DOI: 10.1587/transinf.2019EDP7279
Type of Manuscript: PAPER
Category: Educational Technology
e-learning,  vocabulary learning,  log file analysis,  

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This study focuses on computer based foreign language vocabulary learning systems. Our objective is to automatically build vocabulary decks with desired levels of relative difficulty relations. To realize this goal, we exploit the fact that word frequency is a good indicator of vocabulary difficulty. Subsequently, for composing the decks, we pose two requirements as uniformity and diversity. Namely, the difficulty level of the cards in the same deck needs to be uniform enough so that they can be grouped together and difficulty levels of the cards in different decks need to be diverse enough so that they can be grouped in different decks. To assess uniformity and diversity, we use rank-biserial correlation and propose an iterative algorithm, which helps in attaining desired levels of uniformity and diversity based on word frequency in daily use of language. In experiments, we employed a spaced repetition flashcard software and presented users various decks built with the proposed algorithm, which contain cards from different content types. From users' activity logs, we derived several behavioral variables and examined the polyserial correlation between these variables and difficulty levels across different word classes. This analysis confirmed that the decks compiled with the proposed algorithm induce an effect on behavioral variables in line with the expectations. In addition, a series of experiments with decks involving varying content types confirmed that this relation is independent of word class.