Who Said What? An Automated Approach to Analyzing Speech in Preschool Classrooms

Anchen Sun, Juan J Londono, Batya Elbaum, Luis Estrada, Roberto Jose Lazo, Laura Vitale, Hugo Gonzalez Villasanti, Riccardo Fusaroli, Lynn K Perry, Daniel S Messinger
Electrical Engineering and Systems Science, Audio and Speech Processing, Audio and Speech Processing (eess.AS), Machine Learning (cs.LG)
2024-01-14 00:00:00
Young children spend substantial portions of their waking hours in noisy preschool classrooms. In these environments, children's vocal interactions with teachers are critical contributors to their language outcomes, but manually transcribing these interactions is prohibitive. Using audio from child- and teacher-worn recorders, we propose an automated framework that uses open source software both to classify speakers (ALICE) and to transcribe their utterances (Whisper). We compare results from our framework to those from a human expert for 110 minutes of classroom recordings, including 85 minutes from child-word microphones (n=4 children) and 25 minutes from teacher-worn microphones (n=2 teachers). The overall proportion of agreement, that is, the proportion of correctly classified teacher and child utterances, was .76, with an error-corrected kappa of .50 and a weighted F1 of .76. The word error rate for both teacher and child transcriptions was .15, meaning that 15% of words would need to be deleted, added, or changed to equate the Whisper and expert transcriptions. Moreover, speech features such as the mean length of utterances in words, the proportion of teacher and child utterances that were questions, and the proportion of utterances that were responded to within 2.5 seconds were similar when calculated separately from expert and automated transcriptions. The results suggest substantial progress in analyzing classroom speech that may support children's language development. Future research using natural language processing is underway to improve speaker classification and to analyze results from the application of the automated it framework to a larger dataset containing classroom recordings from 13 children and 4 teachers observed on 17 occasions over one year.
PDF: Who Said What? An Automated Approach to Analyzing Speech in Preschool Classrooms.pdf
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