Currently, college-going students are taking longer to graduate than their parental generations. Further, in the United States, the six-year graduation rate has been 59% for decades. Improving the educational quality by training better-prepared students who can successfully graduate in a timely manner is critical. Accurately predicting students' grades in future courses has attracted much attention as it can help identify at-risk students early so that personalized feedback can be provided to them on time by advisors. Prior research on students' grade prediction include shallow linear models; however, students' learning is a highly complex process that involves the accumulation of knowledge across a sequence of courses that can not be sufficiently modeled by these linear models. In addition to that, prior approaches focus on prediction accuracy without considering prediction uncertainty, which is essential for advising and decision making. In this work, we present two types of Bayesian deep learning models for grade prediction. The MLP ignores the temporal dynamics of students' knowledge evolution. Hence, we propose RNN for students' performance prediction. To evaluate the performance of the proposed models, we performed extensive experiments on data collected from a large public university. The experimental results show that the proposed models achieve better performance than prior state-of-the-art approaches. Besides more accurate results, Bayesian deep learning models estimate uncertainty associated with the predictions. We explore how uncertainty estimation can be applied towards developing a reliable educational early warning system. In addition to uncertainty, we also develop an approach to explain the prediction results, which is useful for advisors to provide personalized feedback to students.
In order to help undergraduate students towards successfully completing their degrees, developing tools that can assist students during the course selection process is a significant task in the education domain. The optimal set of courses for each student should include courses that help him/her graduate in a timely fashion and for which he/she is well-prepared for so as to get a good grade in. To this end, we propose two different grade-aware course recommendation approaches to recommend to each student his/her optimal set of courses. The first approach ranks the courses by using an objective function that differentiates between courses that are expected to increase or decrease a student's GPA. The second approach combines the grades predicted by grade prediction methods with the rankings produced by course recommendation methods to improve the final course rankings. To obtain the course rankings in the first approach, we adapt two widely-used representation learning techniques to learn the optimal temporal ordering between courses. Our experiments on a large dataset obtained from the University of Minnesota that includes students from 23 different majors show that the grade-aware course recommendation methods can do better on recommending more courses in which the students are expected to perform well and recommending fewer courses in which they are expected not to perform well in than grade-unaware course recommendation methods.
We investigate the issues of undergraduate on-time graduation with respect to subject proficiencies through the lens of representation learning, training a student vector embeddings from a dataset of 8 years of course enrollments. We compare the per-semester student representations of a cohort of undergraduate Integrative Biology majors to those of graduated students in subject areas involved in their degree requirements. The result is an embedding rich in information about the relationships between majors and pathways taken by students which encoded enough information to improve prediction accuracy of on-time graduation to 95%, up from a baseline of 87.3%. Challenges to preparation of the data for student vectorization and sourcing of validation sets for optimization are discussed.
Accurately predicting students' future performance based on their tracked academic records in college programs is crucial for effectively carrying out necessary pedagogical interventions to ensure students' on-time graduation. Although there is a rich literature on predicting student performance in solving problems and studying courses using data-driven approaches, predicting student performance in completing college programs is much less studied and faces new challenges, mainly due to the diversity of courses selected by students and the requirement of continuous tracking and incorporation of students' evolving progresses. In this paper, we develop a novel algorithm that enables progressive prediction of students' performance by adapting ensemble learning techniques and utilizing education-specific domain knowledge. We prove its prediction performance guarantee and show its performance improvement against benchmark algorithms on a real-world student dataset from UCLA.
Increasingly fast development and update cycle of online course contents, and diverse demographics of students in each online classroom, make student performance prediction in real-time (before the course finishes) an interesting topic for both industrial research and practical needs. In that, we tackle the problem of real-time student performance prediction with on-going courses in domain adaptation framework, which is a system trained on students' labeled outcome from one previous coursework but is meant to be deployed on another. In particular, we first review recently-developed GritNet architecture which is the current state of the art for student performance prediction problem, and introduce a new unsupervised domain adaptation method to transfer a GritNet trained on a past course to a new course without any (students' outcome) label. Our results for real Udacity students' graduation predictions show that the GritNet not only generalizes well from one course to another across different Nanodegree programs, but enhances real-time predictions explicitly in the first few weeks when accurate predictions are most challenging.