Towards Equity and Algorithmic Fairness in Student Grade Prediction

14 May 2021  ·  Weijie Jiang, Zachary A. Pardos ·

Equity of educational outcome and fairness of AI with respect to race have been topics of increasing importance in education. In this work, we address both with empirical evaluations of grade prediction in higher education, an important task to improve curriculum design, plan interventions for academic support, and offer course guidance to students. With fairness as the aim, we trial several strategies for both label and instance balancing to attempt to minimize differences in algorithm performance with respect to race. We find that an adversarial learning approach, combined with grade label balancing, achieved by far the fairest results. With equity of educational outcome as the aim, we trial strategies for boosting predictive performance on historically underserved groups and find success in sampling those groups in inverse proportion to their historic outcomes. With AI-infused technology supports increasingly prevalent on campuses, our methodologies fill a need for frameworks to consider performance trade-offs with respect to sensitive student attributes and allow institutions to instrument their AI resources in ways that are attentive to equity and fairness.

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