Formulating Module Assessment for Improved Academic Performance Predictability in Higher Education
The choice of an effective student assessment method is an issue of interest in Higher Education. Various studies  have shown that students tend to get higher marks when assessed through coursework-based assessment methods which include either modules that are fully assessed through coursework or a mixture of coursework and examinations than assessed by examination alone. There are a large number of educational data mining (EDM) studies that pre-process data through conventional data mining processes including data preparation process, but they are using transcript data as they stand without looking at examination and coursework results weighting which could affect prediction accuracy. This paper proposes a different data preparation process through investigating more than 230,000 student records in order to prepare students’ marks based on the assessment methods of enrolled modules. The data have been processed through different stages in order to extract a categorical factor through which students’ module marks are refined during the data preparation process. The results of this work show that students’ final marks should not be isolated from the nature of the enrolled module’s assessment methods. They must rather be investigated thoroughly and considered during EDM’s data pre-processing phases. More generally, it is concluded that educational data should not be prepared in the same way as other data types due to differences as data sources, applications, and types of errors in them. Therefore, an attribute, coursework assessment ratio (CAR), is proposed to be used in order to take the different modules’ assessment methods into account while preparing student transcript data. The effect of CAR on prediction process using the random forest classification technique has been investigated. It is shown that considering CAR as an attribute increases the accuracy of predicting students’ second-year averages based on their first-year results.
Keywords:EDM, data mining, higher education, machine learning, module assessment
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