Researchers say they can predict a student’s grades in a course by analyzing that person’s social networks.
Scientists at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s (BGU) Social Networks Security Research Group say the information can be used to determine which students need the most help, as well as which ones excel and might be guided to further study or careers in that subject area.
The researchers analyzed data from a university course that included assignments submitted online and website logs (containing 10,759 entries) to construct social networks of explicit and implicit cooperation among the students.
The implicit connections are used to model all the social interactions that happened “offline” among the students, such as emails with questions, conversations in the lab while preparing the assignments, and even course forums.
In addition to analyzing the online submissions of the students who had to work in pairs or in groups, they also tracked login time and computer usage.
For instance, if two students submitted their assignments from the same computer, it was a likely indication that the two had worked together to complete the assignment, researchers said.
If two students submitted assignments from different computers, but one right after the other on more than one occasion, the researchers gave a value to that data, as well.
“One explanation for what we discovered is that your friends influence your grade in the course, so, if you pick your friends well, then you will get a higher grade,” said co-author and Ph.D. student Michael Fire.
“Alternatively, social networks in courses offer conditions whereby good students will pair with other good students, and similarly weaker ones will pair with weaker students.”