Structure matters: adoption of structured classification approach in the context of cognitive presence classification

Zak Waters, Vitomir Kovanović, Kirsty Kitto, Dragan Gašević

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Within online learning communities, receiving timely and meaningful insights into the quality of learning activities is an important part of an effective educational experience. Commonly adopted methods–such as the Community of Inquiry framework–rely on manual coding of online discussion transcripts, which is a costly and time consuming process. There are several efforts underway to enable the automated classification of online discussion messages using supervised machine learning, which would enable the real-time analysis of interactions occurring within online learning communities. This paper investigates the importance of incorporating features that utilise the structure of online discussions for the classification of “cognitive presence”–the central dimension of the Community of Inquiry framework focusing on the quality of students’ critical thinking within online learning communities. We implemented a Conditional Random Field classification solution, which incorporates structural features that may be useful in increasing classification performance over other implementations. Our approach leads to an improvement in classification accuracy of 5.8% over current existing techniques when tested on the same dataset, with a precision and recall of 0.630 and 0.504 respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInformation Retrieval Technology
Subtitle of host publication11th Asia Information Retrieval Societies Conference, AIRS 2015 Brisbane, QLD, Australia, December 2–4, 2015 Proceedings
EditorsGuido Zuccon, Shlomo Geva, Hideo Joho, Falk Scholer, Aixin Sun, Peng Zhang
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9783319289403
ISBN (Print)9783319289397
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventAsia Information Retrieval Symposium 2015 - Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
Duration: 2 Dec 20154 Dec 2015
Conference number: 11th

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


ConferenceAsia Information Retrieval Symposium 2015
Abbreviated titleAIRS 2015
Internet address


  • Conditional random fields
  • Online discussions
  • Online learning
  • Text classification

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