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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.

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Artificial Neural Networks: A Case Study

Ghaleb A. El-Refae Qeethara Kadhim Al-Shayea

Faculty of Economics and Admin. Sciences Faculty of Economics and Admin. Sciences, MIS Dep.

Al-Zaytoonah University of Jordan Al-Zaytoonah University of Jordan

Amman, Jordan Amman, Jordan

ghalebalrefae@yahoo.com kit_alshayeh@yahoo.com

critical for universities because strategic programs can be disposition toward computers, and majors.

planned in improving or maintaining students’ performance.

The goal of this study is to predict the factors affecting the Al-Tamimi and Al-Shayeb [5] investigated some factors

university students' performance using Artificial Neural affecting student performance in the fundamentals of

Networks (ANN) model. Various factors that may likely financial management course at United Arab Emirates

influence the performance of a student were identified. University.

Generalized Regression Neural Network (GRNN) is used to

Ibrahim and Rusli [6] developed three predictive models

predict the university students' performance. It is noticed a

using SAS Enterprise Miner that are, artificial neural

significant improvement in the prediction made by

network, decision tree and linear regression. The result of

GRNN due to its generalization property. The most this study showed that all of the three models produce more

important predictor variable influencing performance is than 80% accuracy. It also showed that artificial neural

consistently having the largest regression. Results showed that network outperforms the other two models.

secondary school performance which is measured by scores in

secondary school certificate examination, measured in a Oladokun, Adebanjo and Charles-Owaba [7] presented

percentage form having the largest regression value. an artificial neural network model for predicting the likely

performance of a candidate being considered for admission

Keywords-component; regression, stdudent performance; into the university was developed and tested.

Artificial neural networks; general regression network

II. ARTIFICIAL NEURAL NETWORKS

I. INTRODUCTION

An artificial neural network (ANN) is a computational

The prediction and explanation of academic performance model that attempts to account for the parallel nature of the

and the investigation of the factors relating to the academic human brain. An (ANN) is a network of highly

success and persistence of students are topics of utmost interconnecting processing elements (neurons) operating in

importance in higher education [1]. parallel. These elements are inspired by biological nervous

McKenzie and Schweitzer [2] presented a study that was systems. As in nature, the connections between elements

a prospective investigation of the academic, psychosocial, largely determine the network function. A subgroup of

cognitive, and demographic predictors of academic processing element is called a layer in the network. The first

performance of first year Australian university students. layer is the input layer and the last layer is the output layer.

Between the input and output layer, there may be additional

Alfan [3] determined the undergraduate students' layer(s) of units, called hidden layer(s). Fig. 1 represents the

performance in the Faculty of Business and Accountancy, typical neural network. You can train a neural network to

University of Malaya and the factors influencing the perform a particular function by adjusting the values of the

performance of the undergraduate students. The result of the connections (weights) between elements.

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 Figure 1. A typical neural network

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ISSN 1947-5500

(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

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

functional relation between variables. Since they are T

connectionist-learning machines, the knowledge is directly

imbedded in a set of weights through the linking arcs among input vector x and the training vector u, x= the input vector,

the processing nodes. In order to train a neural network ui=training vector i, the center of neuron i, spread=a constant

properly one needs a large set of representative 'good controlling the size of the receptive region.

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 Figure 2. Generalized Regression Neural Network (GRNN) Architecture

standard statistical technique called kernel regression. By

definition, the regression of a dependent variable y on an III. EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS

independent x estimates the most probable value for y, given

x and a training set. The regression method will produce the A. Data

estimated value of y, which minimizes the mean-squared This study was conducted at the faculty of Economics

error. GRNN is a method for estimating the joint probability and Administrative Sciences, Al-Zaytoonah University of

density function (pdf) of x and y, given only a training set. Jordan in Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Our sample

Because the pdf is derived from the data with no consists of 208 students belonging to accounting

preconceptions about its form, the system is perfectly department. The information for this study has been

general. Furthermore, it is consistent; that is, as the training obtained from the register office at Al-Zaytoonah University

set size becomes large, the estimation error approaches zero, of Jordan and which are maintained on a computerized

with only mild restrictions on the function. In GRNN, database.

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 The Cumulative Grade Average Point (CGPA) is used as

output vector [13]. GRNN architecture is given in Fig. 2. an indicator to measure the performance of the university

GRNN is based on the following formula [14]: students'.

∞ The students' overall performance was hypothesized to

∫ y. f ( x, y ).dy be a function of the following factors: (1) Secondary school

E[y | x] = −∞ performance is measured by scores in secondary school

∞

(1) certificate examination, measured in a percentage form (2)

∫ f ( x, y ).dy

−∞

type of secondary school branch, (3) gender, and (4)

boarding or non boarding student.

where y is the output of the estimator, x is the estimator B. Results Analysis

input vector, E[y|x] is the expected output value, given the A generalized regression neural network (GRNN) with a

input vector x and f(x,y) is the joint probability density radial basis layer and a special linear layer and linear output

function (pdf) of x and y. neurons was created using the neural network toolbox from

The function value is estimated optimally as follows: Matlab 7.9 as shown in Fig. 2. Generalized regression neural

n networks are a kind of radial basis network that is often used

∑ h .w i ij

for function approximation.

yj = i =1

n

(2) The first layer has as many neurons as there are input/

∑h

target vectors. Each neuron's weighted input is the distance

i between the input vector and its weight vector. Each

i −1 neuron's net input is the product of its weighted input with

where wij= the target output corresponding to input training its bias. Each neuron's output is its net input passed through

vector xi, radial basis transfer function. Radial basis transfer function

− Di2 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

hi = e 2. spread 2

, the output of the hidden layer neuron, input vector (transposed), its weighted input will be 0, its net

98 http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/

ISSN 1947-5500

(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 The GRNN with cumulative grade point average CGPA

also has as many neurons as input/target vectors. as a target and gender as input was been created. The spread

value was chosen 0.5. The percent correctly predicted in the

We used a spread slightly lower than the distance simulation sample is approximately 27 percent as shown in

between input values, in order, to get a function that fits Fig. 6.

individual data points fairly closely. A smaller spread would

fit data better but be less smooth.

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. Figure 6.

The percent correctly predicted in the simulation sample is

approximately 76 percent as shown in Fig. 4. 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.

as a target and type of secondary school branch as input was

been created. The spread value was chosen 0.6. The percent Figure 7.

correctly predicted in the simulation sample is

approximately 36 percent as shown in Fig. 5.

Figure 8.

Figure 5.

99 http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/

ISSN 1947-5500

(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,

Vol. 8, No. 5, 2010

It is obvious from the results, that the most affecting Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences at Al-Zaytoonah

factor in academic university students' which is measured by University of Jordan, Amman – Jordan. His research interest is in the

application of IT and IS in Business and Economics.

CGPA is the secondary school performance.

Fig. 8 shows the multiple regressions for the four

Qeethara Kadhim Abdul Rahman Al-Shayea, has

affecting factors. The spread value was chosen 0.2. The received Ph. D. in Computer Science, Computer

percent correctly predicted in the simulation sample is Science Department, University of Technology,

approximately 89 percent. Iraq, 2005. She received her M.Sc. degree in

Computer Science, Computer Science Department

IV. CONCLUSIONS from University of Technology, Iraq, 2000. She has

received her High Diploma degree in information

In this paper the general regression neural network is Security from Computer Science Department,

used for the prediction of university student performance. University of Technology, Iraq, 1997. She has

The advantage of using the GRNN in the prediction is its received B. Sc. Degree in Computer Science

generalization property. The results of this study provide Department from University of Technology, Iraq,

evidence which suggests that secondary school performance 1992. She joined in September (2001-2006),

Computer Science Department, University of Technology, Iraq as assistant

is the single most important variable associated with their professor. She joined in September 2006, Department of Management

overall performance upon graduation from university. Other Information Systems Faculty of Economics & Administrative Sciences Al-

variables such as type of secondary school branch, gender, Zaytoonah University of Jordan as assistant professor. She is interested in

and boarding or non boarding student show a lesser degree Artificial intelligent, image processing, computer vision, coding theory and

of significance in predicting performance as compared with information security.

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.

AUTHORS PROFILE

USA, M. Sc and B. Sc in Accounting. He is a professor and Dean of

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