Institutional Research Using Data Mining: A Case Study in Online Programs

Institutional Research Using Data Mining: A Case Study in Online Programs

Constanta-Nicoleta Bodea (Academy of Economic Studies, Romania), Vasile Bodea (Academy of Economic Studies, Romania) and Radu Mogos (Academy of Economic Studies, Romania)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 37
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-857-6.ch005


The aim of this chapter is to explore the application of data mining for analyzing academic performance in connection with the participatory behavior of the students enrolled in an online two-year Master degree program in project management. The main data sources were the operational database with the students’ records and the log files and statistics provided by the e-learning platform. One hundred eighty-one enrolled students, and more than 150 distinct characteristics/ variables per student were used. Due to the large number of variables, an exploratory data analysis through data mining was chosen, and a model-based discovery approach was designed and executed in Weka environment. The association rules, clustering, and classification were applied in order to identify the factors explaining the students’ performance and the relationship between academic performance and behavior in the virtual learning environment. Data mining has revealed interesting patterns in data. These patterns indicate that academic performance is related to the intensity of the student activities in virtual environment. If the student understands how to work and she/he is motivated to communicate with others, then he might have a good academic performance. Based on clustering analysis, different student profiles were discovered, explaining the academic performance. The results are very encouraging and suggest several future developments.
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The case study refers to a national university in Romania, called as the Federal University. The education and training programs of this university are delivered based on a public budget, coming from the Education and Research Ministry, and also on its own resources, such as: micro-budget activities and services, introduction of fees, scientific research, foreign loans, and so on. The university autonomy, along with its major components: the financial autonomy, the administration flexibility and the implementation of a high economic motivation are the key levers of the general strategy for improving the efficiency of the university management.

The Federal University is considered a remarkable representative of higher education in Romania. The university has 10 faculties or colleges. In 2009-2010, the Federal University has delivered more than 192 education and training programs, 26 of them being delivered as online programs (see Table 1). There are more than 49,000 enrolled students (35,500 students enrolled in bachelor degree programs, 9400 students in master programs, 2500 PhD students and over 1600 students enrolled in academic schools and post-graduate courses). The National University of Economic Studies has 2000 didactical staff and technical and administrative personnel, all together. The Federal University delivers online programs using several e-learning platforms, the most popular one being Moodle, which was adopted by the majority of programs organizers. Moodle ( is a course management system, also known as a learning management system or a virtual learning environment.

Table 1.
The education and training portfolio 2009-2010 of the Federal University
The National University of Economic Studies Education &Training ProgramsTotal NumberOnline Programs
Bachelor's degree in Economics130
Continuing education (Trainings)7516
Scientific Master's degree290
Professional Master's degree5610
International Master's degree90
Doctor's degree100

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