Decision Tree-Based Predictive Models for Academic Achievement Using College Students' Support Networks

31 Aug 2021  ·  Anthony Frazier, Joethi Silva, Rachel Meilak, Indranil Sahoo, David Chan, Michael Broda ·

In this study, we examine a set of primary data collected from 484 students enrolled in a large public university in the Mid-Atlantic United States region during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data, called Ties data, included students' demographic and support network information. The support network data comprised of information that highlighted the type of support, (i.e. emotional or educational; routine or intense). Using this data set, models for predicting students' academic achievement, quantified by their self-reported GPA, were created using Chi-Square Automatic Interaction Detection (CHAID), a decision tree algorithm, and cforest, a random forest algorithm that uses conditional inference trees. We compare the methods' accuracy and variation in the set of important variables suggested by each algorithm. Each algorithm found different variables important for different student demographics with some overlap. For White students, different types of educational support were important in predicting academic achievement, while for non-White students, different types of emotional support were important in predicting academic achievement. The presence of differing types of routine support were important in predicting academic achievement for cisgender women, while differing types of intense support were important in predicting academic achievement for cisgender men.

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