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Learners Demographics Classification on MOOCs During the COVID-19: Author Profiling via Deep Learning Based on Semantic and Syntactic Representations

Aljohani, Tahani and Cristea, Alexandra I. (2021) 'Learners Demographics Classification on MOOCs During the COVID-19: Author Profiling via Deep Learning Based on Semantic and Syntactic Representations.', Frontiers in Research Metrics and Analytics, 6 . p. 673928.


Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have become universal learning resources, and the COVID-19 pandemic is rendering these platforms even more necessary. In this paper, we seek to improve Learner Profiling (LP), i.e. estimating the demographic characteristics of learners in MOOC platforms. We have focused on examining models which show promise elsewhere, but were never examined in the LP area (deep learning models) based on effective textual representations. As LP characteristics, we predict here the employment status of learners. We compare sequential and parallel ensemble deep learning architectures based on Convolutional Neural Networks and Recurrent Neural Networks, obtaining an average high accuracy of 96.3% for our best method. Next, we predict the gender of learners based on syntactic knowledge from the text. We compare different tree-structured Long-Short-Term Memory models (as state-of-the-art candidates) and provide our novel version of a Bi-directional composition function for existing architectures. In addition, we evaluate 18 different combinations of word-level encoding and sentence-level encoding functions. Based on these results, we show that our Bi-directional model outperforms all other models and the highest accuracy result among our models is the one based on the combination of FeedForward Neural Network and the Stack-augmented Parser-Interpreter Neural Network (82.60% prediction accuracy). We argue that our prediction models recommended for both demographics characteristics examined in this study can achieve high accuracy. This is additionally also the first time a sound methodological approach toward improving accuracy for learner demographics classification on MOOCs was proposed.

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Publisher statement:© 2021 Aljohani and Cristea. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Date accepted:14 May 2021
Date deposited:01 November 2021
Date of first online publication:02 August 2021
Date first made open access:01 November 2021

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