Data mining and procrastination

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Researchers have been able to predict the best time for a student to start an assignment, which may help those students who procrastinate. The answer to when is the best time to start an assignment is at least three days before it’s due. How did the researchers come to this conclusion? Through data mining.

Data mining (not to be confused with data analytics) is defined by the International Educational Data Mining Society as “an emerging discipline, concerned with developing methods for exploring the unique types of data that come from educational settings, and using those methods to better understand students, and the settings which they learn in.” (source: Educational Data Mining )

The actual data mining task is the automatic or semi-automatic review and analysis of large quantities of data to uncover previously unknown, interesting patterns such as when is the best time for a student to start an assignment.

Increasingly, the existence of data from thousands of students, using broadly the same learning management system, (e.g. Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Moodle) widens the opportunity of research into areas that were not possible before. Researchers can now start to answer some of the questions that teachers as well as students have been asking. An example of this is that it has been challenging to research how the differences between teachers and classroom cohorts influence specific aspects of the learning experience.

There are many questions regarding the use of data mining in education (privacy and ethics are just two of many), these questions will continue to be answered in many different arenas.

Read further on the research conducted addressing when to start an assignment by accessing the Hechinger Report.


Photo credit: Digging a hole by Eselsmann, Flickr creative commons, used under CC BY-2.0

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