How To Predict Students’ Success: Find Out Who Their Friends Are
Researchers at an Israeli university, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, have developed a novel method to predict how well or badly a students will perform in an academic course: figuring out who their friends are. ScienceDaily reports:
“The researchers analyzed data from a BGU course that included assignments submitted online and Web site 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: e-mails with questions, conversations in the lab while preparing the assignments, and even course forums.
‘These connections were very important, as we sought to model the social interactions within the student body,’ explains co-author Michael Fire.
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. If two students submitted assignments from different computers, but one right after the other on more than one occasion, the authors gave a value to that data, as well.
The researchers found that students with high grades tended to work and socialize together. Students with lower grades tended to interact with other low-scoring pupuls
‘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,” Fire says. “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.'” (Read more here.)
Which direction do you think the influence flows? Do smart students seek each other out, or does hanging around with smart people make you smarter? Or does the influence travel both ways?