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Predicting MOOCs dropout using only two easily obtainable features from the first week’s activities.

Alamri, Ahmed and Alshehri, Mohammad and Cristea, Alexandra I. and Pereira, Filipe D. and Oliveira, Elaine and Shi, Lei and Stewart, Craig (2019) 'Predicting MOOCs dropout using only two easily obtainable features from the first week’s activities.', in Intelligent tutoring systems. ITS 2019. , pp. 163-173. Lecture notes in computer science., 11528 (Cham).


While Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs) platforms provide knowledge in a new and unique way, the very high number of dropouts is a significant drawback. Several features are considered to contribute towards learner attrition or lack of interest, which may lead to disengagement or total dropout. The jury is still out on which factors are the most appropriate predictors. However, the literature agrees that early prediction is vital to allow for a timely intervention. Whilst feature-rich predictors may have the best chance for high accuracy, they may be unwieldy. This study aims to predict learner dropout early-on, from the first week, by comparing several machine-learning approaches, including Random Forest, Adaptive Boost, XGBoost and GradientBoost Classifiers. The results show promising accuracies (82%–94%) using as little as 2 features. We show that the accuracies obtained outperform state of the art approaches, even when the latter deploy several features.

Item Type:Book chapter
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of a chapter published in Lecture notes in computer science. The final authenticated version is available online at:
Date accepted:12 March 2019
Date deposited:04 July 2019
Date of first online publication:30 May 2019
Date first made open access:04 July 2019

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