Bokai Yang

Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Computer Science and Engineering

First Advisor

John R. Rose


The increase of computing power and the ability to log students’ data with the help of the computer-assisted learning systems has led to an increased interest in developing and applying computer science techniques for analyzing learning data. To understand and investigate how learning-generated data can be used to improve student success, data mining techniques have been applied to several educational tasks. This dissertation investigates three important tasks in various domains of educational data mining: learners’ behavior analysis, essay structure analysis and feedback providing, and learners’ dropout prediction. The first project applied latent semantic analysis and machine learning approaches to investigate how MOOC learners’ longitudinal trajectory of meaningful forum participation facilitated learner performance. The findings have implications on refining the courses’ facilitation methods and forum design, helping improve learners’ performance, and assessing learners’ academic performance in MOOCs. The second project aims to analyze the organizational structures used in previous ACT test essays and provide an argumentative structure feedback tool driven by deep learning language models to better support the current automatic essay scoring systems and classroom settings. The third project applied MOOC learners’ forum participation states to predict dropouts with the help of hidden Markov models and other machine learning techniques. The results of this project show that forum behavior can be applied to predict dropout and evaluate the learners’ status. Overall, the results of this dissertation expand current research and shed light on how computer science techniques could further improve students’ learning experience.


© 2023, Bokai Yang