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Predicting Student Academic Performance in an Engineering Dynamics Course: a Comparison of Four Types of Predictive Mathematical Models

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Submitted By Elina26
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Predicting student academic performance has long been an important research topic in many academic disciplines. The present study is the first study that develops and compares four types of mathematical models to predict student academic performance in engineering dynamics – a high-enrollment, high-impact, and core course that many engineering undergraduates are required to take. The four types of mathematical models include the multiple linear regression model, the multilayer perception network model, the radial basis function network model, and the support vector machine model. The inputs (i.e., predictor variables) of the models include student's cumulative GPA, grades earned in four pre-requisite courses (statics, calculus I, calculus II, and physics), and scores on three dynamics mid-term exams (i.e., the exams given to students during the semester and before the final exam). The output of the models is students' scores on the dynamics final comprehensive exam. A total of 2907 data points were collected from 323 undergraduates in four semesters. Based on the four types of mathematical models and six different combinations of predictor variables, a total of 24 predictive mathematical models were developed from the present study. The analysis reveals that the type of mathematical model has only a slight effect on the average prediction accuracy (APA, which indicates on average how well a model predicts the final exam scores of all students in the dynamics course) and on the percentage of accurate predictions (PAP, which is calculated as the number of accurate predictions divided by the total number of predictions). The combination of predictor variables has only a slight effect on the APA, but a profound effect on the PAP. In general, the support vector machine models have the highest PAP as compared to the other three types of mathematical models. The research…...

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