Log file analysis for disengagement detection in e-Learning environments

Mihaela Cocea, S. Weibelzahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Most e-Learning systems store data about the learner’s actions in log files, which give us detailed information about learner behaviour. Data mining and machine learning techniques can give meaning to these data and provide valuable information for learning improvement. One area that is of particular importance in the design of e-Learning systems is learner motivation as it is a key factor in the quality of learning and in the prevention of attrition. One aspect of motivation is engagement, a necessary condition for effective learning. Using data mining techniques for log file analysis, our research investigates the possibility of predicting users’ level of engagement, with a focus on disengaged learners. As demonstrated previously across two different e-Learning systems, HTML-Tutor and iHelp, disengagement can be predicted by monitoring the learners’ actions (e.g., reading pages and taking test/quizzes). In this paper we present the findings of three studies that refine this prediction approach. Results from the first study show that two additional reading speed attributes can increase the accuracy of prediction. The second study suggests that distinguishing between two different patterns of disengagement (spending a long time on a page/test and browsing quickly through pages/tests) may improve prediction in some cases. The third study demonstrates the influence of exploratory behaviour on prediction, as most users at the first login familiarize themselves with the system before starting to learn.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-385
Number of pages45
JournalUser Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009


  • Disengagement
  • Educational data mining
  • Log files analysis
  • Motivation
  • User modelling
  • e-Learning


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