Add like
Add dislike
Add to saved papers

Natural language processing for automatic evaluation of free-text answers - a feasibility study based on the European Diploma in Radiology examination.

Insights Into Imaging 2023 September 20
BACKGROUND: Written medical examinations consist of multiple-choice questions and/or free-text answers. The latter require manual evaluation and rating, which is time-consuming and potentially error-prone. We tested whether natural language processing (NLP) can be used to automatically analyze free-text answers to support the review process.

METHODS: The European Board of Radiology of the European Society of Radiology provided representative datasets comprising sample questions, answer keys, participant answers, and reviewer markings from European Diploma in Radiology examinations. Three free-text questions with the highest number of corresponding answers were selected: Questions 1 and 2 were "unstructured" and required a typical free-text answer whereas question 3 was "structured" and offered a selection of predefined wordings/phrases for participants to use in their free-text answer. The NLP engine was designed using word lists, rule-based synonyms, and decision tree learning based on the answer keys and its performance tested against the gold standard of reviewer markings.

RESULTS: After implementing the NLP approach in Python, F1 scores were calculated as a measure of NLP performance: 0.26 (unstructured question 1, n = 96), 0.33 (unstructured question 2, n = 327), and 0.5 (more structured question, n = 111). The respective precision/recall values were 0.26/0.27, 0.4/0.32, and 0.62/0.55.

CONCLUSION: This study showed the successful design of an NLP-based approach for automatic evaluation of free-text answers in the EDiR examination. Thus, as a future field of application, NLP could work as a decision-support system for reviewers and support the design of examinations being adjusted to the requirements of an automated, NLP-based review process.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE STATEMENT: Natural language processing can be successfully used to automatically evaluate free-text answers, performing better with more structured question-answer formats. Furthermore, this study provides a baseline for further work applying, e.g., more elaborated NLP approaches/large language models.

KEY POINTS: • Free-text answers require manual evaluation, which is time-consuming and potentially error-prone. • We developed a simple NLP-based approach - requiring only minimal effort/modeling - to automatically analyze and mark free-text answers. • Our NLP engine has the potential to support the manual evaluation process. • NLP performance is better on a more structured question-answer format.

Full text links

We have located links that may give you full text access.
Can't access the paper?
Try logging in through your university/institutional subscription. For a smoother one-click institutional access experience, please use our mobile app.

Related Resources

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app

Mobile app image

Get seemless 1-tap access through your institution/university

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app

All material on this website is protected by copyright, Copyright © 1994-2024 by WebMD LLC.
This website also contains material copyrighted by 3rd parties.

By using this service, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy.

Your Privacy Choices Toggle icon

You can now claim free CME credits for this literature searchClaim now

Get seemless 1-tap access through your institution/university

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app