Study on student academic performance receives Best Short Paper Award at LAK conference

A paper co-authored by University of Michigan School of Information research professor Stephanie Teasley has received a Best Short Paper Award at the recent 8th International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge in Sydney, Australia. The paper describes a study of the potential impact on university students’ academic performance throughout the semester when their class load includes multiple difficult courses. 

Stephanie Teasley

The paper, “Conceptualizing Co-enrollment: Accounting for Student Experiences across the Curriculum,” asked which factors might increase a student’s chances of experiencing academic difficulty by looking specifically at  students in an introductory computer science course in combination with all other courses taken that term.

The goal of the study, says Teasley, was to “find ways to reduce the risk of students underperforming when they come to the university.”

The other co-authors of the study are from the University of Michigan’s School of Education. Alumnus Michael Brown is an  assistant professor at Iowa State University and Matt DeMonbrun will graduate with a PhD later this spring. 

DeMonbrun said the paper is part of an ongoing research project to examine student success in the classroom on a week-to-week basis. “Many studies examine end-of-semester results and then figure out ‘what went wrong’,” he said.

“We’re trying to allow for mid-semester adjustments to help faculty and practitioners address students’ academic difficulties before they reach the point where they cannot turn their grade around.

“We analyzed how co-enrollment networks could potentially help explain student success or failure in a group of courses. What we found was that, indeed, co-enrollment in other ‘difficult courses’ was an indicator of students more likely to experience academic difficulties.”

The study results will help academic advisors, faculty, and instructional support staff explore unintended challenges students face by the organization of the curriculum. These findings can also inform the design of current and future “early warning systems” that give alerts to advisors about a student’s current performance.

One such system is Student Explorer, built by a team led by Teasley, who also is director of UMSI’s Learning, Education & Design (LED) Lab.

by Sheryl James, UMSI PR Specialist

Posted April 12, 2018