Using students’ cognitive, affective, and demographic characteristics to predict their understanding of computational thinking concepts: A machine learning-based approach

Siu Cheung KONG, Wei SHEN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

Logistic regression models have traditionally been used to identify the factors contributing to students’ conceptual understanding. With the advancement of the machine learning-based research approach, there are reports that some machine learning algorithms outperform logistic regression models in terms of prediction. In this study, we collected cognitive, affective, and demographic data from 4,142 primary students as features to predict their understanding of computational thinking (CT) concepts. We identified and used five popularly used machine learning models. All five machine learning models outperformed the logistic regression model, with the extreme gradient boosting (XGBoost) model achieving the highest predictive accuracy. We used these features and the K-means algorithm of the unsupervised clustering technique to identify four optimal clusters of students. By comparing the representative students from each of the four clusters, selected by the t-distributed stochastic neighbour embedding algorithm, we found that each cluster had its characteristics. For example, one cluster consisted of students who outperformed students in the other three clusters in mathematics, scored highest in prior experience in programming, and used computers and the Internet most frequently. By identifying the characteristics of these clusters, pedagogical design, and resource support can be proposed to support students’ learning of CT concepts. Copyright © 2024 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInteractive Learning Environments
Early online dateMar 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Mar 2024

Citation

Kong, S.-C., & Shen, W. (2024). Using students’ cognitive, affective, and demographic characteristics to predict their understanding of computational thinking concepts: A machine learning-based approach. Interactive Learning Environments. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/10494820.2024.2331148

Keywords

  • Clustering
  • Computational thinking concepts
  • Machine learning-based approach
  • t-distributed stochastic neighbour embedding
  • XGBoost model

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