Categorizing Well-Written Course Learning Outcomes Using Machine Learning

Yessine Hadj Kacem, Safa Alshehri, Tala Qaid
Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice  •  Volume 21  •  2022  •  pp. 061-075

This paper presents a machine learning approach for analyzing Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs). The aim of this study is to find a model that can check whether a CLO is well written or not.

The use of machine learning algorithms has been, since many years, a prominent solution to predict learner performance in Outcome Based Education. However, the CLOs definition is still presenting a big handicap for faculties. There is a lack of supported tools and models that permit to predict whether a CLO is well written or not. Consequently, educators need an expert in quality and education to validate the outcomes of their courses.

A novel method named CLOCML (Course Learning Outcome Classification using Machine Learning) is proposed in this paper to develop predictive models for CLOs paraphrasing. A new dataset entitled CLOC (Course Learning Outcomes Classes) for that purpose has been collected and then undergone a pre-processing phase. We compared the performance of 4 models for predicting a CLO classification. Those models are Support Vector Machine (SVM), Random Forest, Naive Bayes and XGBoost.

The application of CLOCML may help faculties to make well-defined CLOs and then correct CLOs' measures in order to improve the quality of education addressed to their students.

The best classification model was SVM. It was able to detect the CLO class with an accuracy of 83%.

We would recommend both faculties’ members and quality reviewers to make an informed decision about the nature of a given course outcome.

We would highly endorse that the researchers apply more machine learning models for CLOs of various disciplines and compare between them. We would also recommend that future studies investigate on the importance of the definition of CLOs and its impact on the credibility of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) values during accreditation process.

The findings of this study confirm the results of several other researchers who use machine learning in outcome-based education. The definition of right CLOs will help the student to get an idea about the performances that will be measured at the end of a course. Moreover, each faculty can take appropriate actions and suggest suitable recommendations after right performance measures in order to improve the quality of his course.

Future research can be improved by using a larger dataset. It could also be improved with deep learning models to reach more accurate results. Indeed, a strategy for checking CLOs overlaps could be integrated.

course learning outcomes, paraphrasing, machine learning, classification, out-come based education
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