AAAI Publications, Twenty-Ninth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence

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Identifying At-Risk Students in Massive Open Online Courses
Jiazhen He, James Bailey, Benjamin I. P. Rubinstein, Rui Zhang

Last modified: 2015-02-18


Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have received widespread attention for their potential to scale higher education, with multiple platforms such as Coursera, edX and Udacity recently appearing. Despite their successes, a major problem faced by MOOCs is low completion rates. In this paper, we explore the accurate early identification of students who are at risk of not completing courses. We build predictive models weekly, over multiple offerings of a course. Furthermore, we envision student interventions that present meaningful probabilities of failure, enacted only for marginal students.To be effective, predicted probabilities must be both well-calibrated and smoothed across weeks.Based on logistic regression, we propose two transfer learning algorithms to trade-off smoothness and accuracy by adding a regularization term to minimize the difference of failure probabilities between consecutive weeks. Experimental results on two offerings of a Coursera MOOC establish the effectiveness of our algorithms.


MOOCs; transfer learning; logistic regression

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