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Predicting Students' Academic Performance Using Artificial Neural Networks: A Case Study

Predicting Students' Academic Performance Using Artificial Neural Networks: A Case Study

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Predicting students’ academic performance is critical for universities because strategic programs can be planned in improving or maintaining students’ performance. The goal of this study is to predict the factors affecting the university students' performance using Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) model. Various factors that may likely influence the performance of a student were identified. Generalized Regression Neural Network (GRNN) is used to predict the university students' performance. It is noticed a significant improvement in the prediction made by GRNN due to its generalization property. The most important predictor variable influencing performance is consistently having the largest regression. Results showed that secondary school performance which is measured by scores in secondary school certificate examination, measured in a percentage form having the largest regression value.
Predicting students’ academic performance is critical for universities because strategic programs can be planned in improving or maintaining students’ performance. The goal of this study is to predict the factors affecting the university students' performance using Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) model. Various factors that may likely influence the performance of a student were identified. Generalized Regression Neural Network (GRNN) is used to predict the university students' performance. It is noticed a significant improvement in the prediction made by GRNN due to its generalization property. The most important predictor variable influencing performance is consistently having the largest regression. Results showed that secondary school performance which is measured by scores in secondary school certificate examination, measured in a percentage form having the largest regression value.

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(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security, Vol. 8, No.

5, 2010

Predicting Students' Academic Performance Using Artificial Neural Networks: A Case Study
Ghaleb A. El-Refae
Faculty of Economics and Admin. Sciences Al-Zaytoonah University of Jordan Amman, Jordan ghalebalrefae@yahoo.com

Qeethara Kadhim Al-Shayea
Faculty of Economics and Admin. Sciences, MIS Dep. Al-Zaytoonah University of Jordan Amman, Jordan kit_alshayeh@yahoo.com

Abstract—Predicting students’ academic performance is critical for universities because strategic programs can be planned in improving or maintaining students’ performance. The goal of this study is to predict the factors affecting the university students' performance using Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) model. Various factors that may likely influence the performance of a student were identified. Generalized Regression Neural Network (GRNN) is used to predict the university students' performance. It is noticed a significant improvement in the prediction made by GRNN due to its generalization property. The most important predictor variable influencing performance is consistently having the largest regression. Results showed that secondary school performance which is measured by scores in secondary school certificate examination, measured in a percentage form having the largest regression value. Keywords-component; regression, stdudent performance; Artificial neural networks; general regression network

computer orientation classes, use of computer-multimedia, disposition toward computers, and majors. Al-Tamimi and Al-Shayeb [5] investigated some factors affecting student performance in the fundamentals of financial management course at United Arab Emirates University. Ibrahim and Rusli [6] developed three predictive models using SAS Enterprise Miner that are, artificial neural network, decision tree and linear regression. The result of this study showed that all of the three models produce more than 80% accuracy. It also showed that artificial neural network outperforms the other two models. Oladokun, Adebanjo and Charles-Owaba [7] presented an artificial neural network model for predicting the likely performance of a candidate being considered for admission into the university was developed and tested. II. ARTIFICIAL NEURAL NETWORKS

I.

INTRODUCTION

The prediction and explanation of academic performance and the investigation of the factors relating to the academic success and persistence of students are topics of utmost importance in higher education [1]. McKenzie and Schweitzer [2] presented a study that was a prospective investigation of the academic, psychosocial, cognitive, and demographic predictors of academic performance of first year Australian university students. Alfan [3] determined the undergraduate students' performance in the Faculty of Business and Accountancy, University of Malaya and the factors influencing the performance of the undergraduate students. The result of the study shows that the predictor variables do explain the variance in the students' final cumulative grade point average. In addition, it was found that knowledge prior to entering the university such as economics, mathematics and accounting is crucial in assisting the students in undertaking the courses in both business and accounting program. The study also found that female students perform better than male students; whilst Chinese students perform better than Malay and Indian students. Su [4] evaluated the performance of university students who learned science texts by using, information communication technologies including animation, static figures, power point, and e-plus software. The results included the computation of the F-ratio, p-values, and Cohen’s effect-sizes of attitudes toward science and learning science in relation to the student’s gender, attendance of

An artificial neural network (ANN) is a computational model that attempts to account for the parallel nature of the human brain. An (ANN) is a network of highly interconnecting processing elements (neurons) operating in parallel. These elements are inspired by biological nervous systems. As in nature, the connections between elements largely determine the network function. A subgroup of processing element is called a layer in the network. The first layer is the input layer and the last layer is the output layer. Between the input and output layer, there may be additional layer(s) of units, called hidden layer(s). Fig. 1 represents the typical neural network. You can train a neural network to perform a particular function by adjusting the values of the connections (weights) between elements.

Figure 1. A typical neural network

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(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security, Vol. 8, No. 5, 2010

For the researcher and the financial analyst, the main advantage of ANNs is that there is no need to specify the functional relation between variables. Since they are connectionist-learning machines, the knowledge is directly imbedded in a set of weights through the linking arcs among the processing nodes. In order to train a neural network properly one needs a large set of representative 'good quality’ examples. In the case of bankruptcy problems, the researcher should be cautious when drawing conclusions from neural networks trained with only one or two hundred cases, as observed in most previous studies [8]. A. Generalized Regression Neural Network The GRNN was applied to solve a variety of problems like prediction, control, plant process modeling or general mapping problems [9]. General regression neural network Specht [10], Nadaraya [11] and Watson [12], does not require an iterative training procedure as in back-propagation method. The GRNN is used for estimation of continuous variables, as in standard regression techniques. It is related to the radial basis function network and is based on a standard statistical technique called kernel regression. By definition, the regression of a dependent variable y on an independent x estimates the most probable value for y, given x and a training set. The regression method will produce the estimated value of y, which minimizes the mean-squared error. GRNN is a method for estimating the joint probability density function (pdf) of x and y, given only a training set. Because the pdf is derived from the data with no preconceptions about its form, the system is perfectly general. Furthermore, it is consistent; that is, as the training set size becomes large, the estimation error approaches zero, with only mild restrictions on the function. In GRNN, instead of training the weights, one simply assigns to wij the target value directly from the training set associated with input training vector i and component j of its corresponding output vector [13]. GRNN architecture is given in Fig. 2. GRNN is based on the following formula [14]:

Di2 = ( x − ui ) ( x − ui ) , the squared distance between the
T

input vector x and the training vector u, x= the input vector, ui=training vector i, the center of neuron i, spread=a constant controlling the size of the receptive region.

Figure 2. Generalized Regression Neural Network (GRNN) Architecture

III.

EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS

A. Data This study was conducted at the faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Al-Zaytoonah University of Jordan in Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Our sample consists of 208 students belonging to accounting department. The information for this study has been obtained from the register office at Al-Zaytoonah University of Jordan and which are maintained on a computerized database. The Cumulative Grade Average Point (CGPA) is used as an indicator to measure the performance of the university students'. The students' overall performance was hypothesized to be a function of the following factors: (1) Secondary school performance is measured by scores in secondary school certificate examination, measured in a percentage form (2) type of secondary school branch, (3) gender, and (4) boarding or non boarding student. B. Results Analysis A generalized regression neural network (GRNN) with a radial basis layer and a special linear layer and linear output neurons was created using the neural network toolbox from Matlab 7.9 as shown in Fig. 2. Generalized regression neural networks are a kind of radial basis network that is often used for function approximation. The first layer has as many neurons as there are input/ target vectors. Each neuron's weighted input is the distance between the input vector and its weight vector. Each neuron's net input is the product of its weighted input with its bias. Each neuron's output is its net input passed through radial basis transfer function. Radial basis transfer function is a neural transfer function which calculates a layer's output from its net input. If a neuron's weight vector is equal to the input vector (transposed), its weighted input will be 0, its net

E[y | x] =

−∞ ∞

∫ y. f ( x, y ).dy
(1)
−∞

∫ f ( x, y ).dy

where y is the output of the estimator, x is the estimator input vector, E[y|x] is the expected output value, given the input vector x and f(x,y) is the joint probability density function (pdf) of x and y. The function value is estimated optimally as follows:

yj =

∑ h .w
i =1 i

n

ij

(2)

∑h
i −1

n

i

where wij= the target output corresponding to input training vector xi,

hi = e

− Di2 2. spread 2

, the output of the hidden layer neuron,

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(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security, Vol. 8, No. 5, 2010

input will be 0, and its output will be 1. The second layer also has as many neurons as input/target vectors. We used a spread slightly lower than the distance between input values, in order, to get a function that fits individual data points fairly closely. A smaller spread would fit data better but be less smooth.

The GRNN with cumulative grade point average CGPA as a target and gender as input was been created. The spread value was chosen 0.5. The percent correctly predicted in the simulation sample is approximately 27 percent as shown in Fig. 6.

Figure 3. A generalized regression neural network (GRNN)

The GRNN with cumulative grade point average CGPA as a target and secondary school performances that is measured by scores in secondary school certificate examination, measured in a percentage form as input was been created. Then simulate the network with 208 inputs. The network outputs after simulation. The spread value was chosen 0.2. The percent correctly predicted in the simulation sample is approximately 76 percent as shown in Fig. 4.

Figure 6.

The GRNN with cumulative grade point average CGPA as a target and boarding or non boarding as input was been created. The spread value was chosen 0.5. The percent correctly predicted in the simulation sample is approximately 20 percent as shown in Fig. 7.

Figure 4.

The GRNN with cumulative grade point average CGPA as a target and type of secondary school branch as input was been created. The spread value was chosen 0.6. The percent correctly predicted in the simulation sample is approximately 36 percent as shown in Fig. 5.

Figure 7.

Figure 8. Figure 5.

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(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security, Vol. 8, No. 5, 2010

It is obvious from the results, that the most affecting factor in academic university students' which is measured by CGPA is the secondary school performance. Fig. 8 shows the multiple regressions for the four affecting factors. The spread value was chosen 0.2. The percent correctly predicted in the simulation sample is approximately 89 percent. IV. CONCLUSIONS

Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences at Al-Zaytoonah University of Jordan, Amman – Jordan. His research interest is in the application of IT and IS in Business and Economics.

In this paper the general regression neural network is used for the prediction of university student performance. The advantage of using the GRNN in the prediction is its generalization property. The results of this study provide evidence which suggests that secondary school performance is the single most important variable associated with their overall performance upon graduation from university. Other variables such as type of secondary school branch, gender, and boarding or non boarding student show a lesser degree of significance in predicting performance as compared with secondary school score. The results also indicate that the variables examined in this study provided a significant contribution in predicting performance when used jointly with secondary school performance variable. References
[1] P. Fenollar, S. Roma´n and P. J. Cuestas, University students’ academic performance: An integrative conceptual framework and empirical analysis, British Journal of Educational Psychology, 77, pp. 873–891, 2007. [2] K. Mckenzie and R. Schweitzer, Who Succeeds at University? Factors Predicting academic performance in first year Australian university students, Higher Education Research and Development, Vol. 20, Issue 1, pp. 21-33, May, 2001. [3] E. Alfan, Undergratuate Students' Performance: The Case of University of Malaya, Quality Assurance in Education: An International Perspective, Vol. 13, Issue 4, pp. 329-343, 2005. [4] K. Su, An integrated science course designed with information communication technologies to enhance university students’ learning performance, Computers and Education, Vol. 51, Issue 3, pp. 1365-1374, Nov., 2008. [5] H. A. Al-Tamimi and A. R. Al-Shayeb, Factors Affecting Student Performance in the Introductory Finance Course, Journal of Economics and Administrative Science, Vol. 18, No. 2 Dec., 2002. [6] Z. Ibrahim and D. Rusli, Predicting Students’ Academic Performance: Comparing Artificial Neural Network, Decision Tree and Linear Regression, 21st Annual SAS Malaysia Forum, 5th September 2007. [7] V.O. Oladokun, A.T. Adebanjo, and O.E. Charles-Owaba, Predicting Students’ Academic Performance using Artificial Neural Network: A Case Study of an Engineering Course, The Pacific Journal of Science and Technology, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 72-79, May, 2008, web page available at: [8] J. C. Neves and A. Vieira, Improving Bankruptcy Prediction with Hidden Layer Learning Vector Quantization, European Accounting Review, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 253–271, 2006. [9] D. W. Patterson, Artificial Neural Networks, Theory, and Applications, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1995. [10] D. F. Specht, A general regression neural network, IEEE Trans. Neural Networks, vol. 2, pp. 568–576, 1991. [11] E. A. Nadaraya, On estimating regression, Theory of Probab. Applicat., vol. 9, pp. 141–142, 1964. [12] G. S. Watson, Smooth regression analysis, Sankhya Series A, vol. 26, pp. 359–372, 1964. [13] M. T. Hagan, H. B. Demuth, M. Beale, Neural network design, PWS Publishing Company, Boston, 1996. [14] K. Kayaer and T. Yildirim, Medical Diagnosis on Pima Indian Diabetes Using General Regression Neural Networks, web page available at: www.yildiz.edu.tr/~tulay/publications/Icann-Iconip2003-2.pdf.

Qeethara Kadhim Abdul Rahman Al-Shayea, has received Ph. D. in Computer Science, Computer Science Department, University of Technology, Iraq, 2005. She received her M.Sc. degree in Computer Science, Computer Science Department from University of Technology, Iraq, 2000. She has received her High Diploma degree in information Security from Computer Science Department, University of Technology, Iraq, 1997. She has received B. Sc. Degree in Computer Science Department from University of Technology, Iraq, 1992. She joined in September (2001-2006), Computer Science Department, University of Technology, Iraq as assistant professor. She joined in September 2006, Department of Management Information Systems Faculty of Economics & Administrative Sciences AlZaytoonah University of Jordan as assistant professor. She is interested in Artificial intelligent, image processing, computer vision, coding theory and information security.

AUTHORS PROFILE Ghaleb A. El-Refae, has a Ph. D. and M.A in Financial Economics form USA, M. Sc and B. Sc in Accounting. He is a professor and Dean of

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