Disengagement detection in on-line learning: validation studies and perspectives

Mihaela Cocea, S. Weibelzahl

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Learning environments aim to deliver efficacious instruction, but rarely take into consideration the motivational factors involved in the learning process. However, motivational aspects like engagement play an important role in effective learning--engaged learners gain more. E-Learning systems could be improved by tracking students' disengagement that, in turn, would allow personalized interventions at appropriate times in order to re-engage students. This idea has been exploited several times for Intelligent Tutoring Systems, but not yet in other types of learning environments that are less structured. To address this gap, our research looks at on-line learning-content-delivery systems using educational data mining techniques. Previously, several attributes relevant for disengagement prediction were identified by means of log-file analysis on HTML-Tutor, a web-based learning environment. In this paper, we investigate the extendibility of our approach to other systems by studying the relevance of these attributes for predicting disengagement in a different e-Learning system. To this end, two validation studies were conducted indicating that the previously identified attributes are pertinent for disengagement prediction, and that two new meta-attributes derived from log data observations improve prediction and may potentially be used for automatic log-file annotation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-124
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


  • e-Learning
  • educational data mining
  • disengagement prediction
  • log-file analysis


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