Dropout Prediction in MOOCs: Using Deep Learning for Personalized Intervention

Wanli Xing, Dongping Du

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Massive open online courses (MOOCs) show great potential to transform traditional education through the Internet. However, the high attrition rates in MOOCs have often been cited as a scale-efficacy tradeoff. Traditional educational approaches are usually unable to identify such large-scale number of at-risk students in danger of dropping out in time to support effective intervention design. While building dropout prediction models using learning analytics are promising in informing intervention design for these at-risk students, results of the current prediction model construction methods do not enable personalized intervention for these students. In this study, we take an initial step to optimize the dropout prediction model performance toward intervention personalization for at-risk students in MOOCs. Specifically, based on a temporal prediction mechanism, this study proposes to use the deep learning algorithm to construct the dropout prediction model and further produce the predicted individual student dropout probability. By taking advantage of the power of deep learning, this approach not only constructs more accurate dropout prediction models compared with baseline algorithms but also comes up with an approach to personalize and prioritize intervention for at-risk students in MOOCs through using individual drop out probabilities. The findings from this study and implications are then discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-570
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Educational Computing Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • MOOCs
  • deep learning
  • dropout prediction
  • intervention
  • machine learning
  • personalization


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