How To Do Academic Data Mining

Data mining, also called knowledge discovery is generally defined as the collection and analysis of data from different views and angles and summarizing the findings into useful chunks of information. The process is normally done by businesses to analyze market research reports and statistics and look for correlations to help them increase their revenues. In an academic setting it can be of use to find correlations between student enrollments and student retention. There are different ways that the process can be used in an academic setting, depending on what outcomes you are looking for. Take a look at some tips below.

  • The process is basically linked to statistics and right now uses a statistics software package. A student should get familiar with the features and capabilities of the application. There are several applications available today that are used for a variety of purpose. Some are easier to use than others and may include the drag and drop method.
  • Clearly define the subject for the data mining project and identify what type of information should be extracted from the data mining process. Define your sources of data and the variables. In data mining, the data can be taken from different sources. And you want to identify what types of information you will be able to extract from these sources. You may want to make a survey to collect information. If this is the case you should make a list of all the survey questions that you want answered and then design the format of the survey. Let us say you want to know the academic success of the students enrolled for the entire academic year for a particular course and you have already identified that the success comes from the effort exerted by the students and their aptitude or their inherent ability.
  • From the example above, you have now identified the type of information you will be looking for. You can break this down further to know how many students graduated, how many dropped out, how many repeaters and possibly the average final grades. You will then have to look at historical data that will represent these variables. For aptitude you will be looking at student SAT scores and their grade point average which you can source out from the student information system.  For effort you can look at total enrollment figures and student attendance for the whole year. Input all information into the statistics software package that you are using and allow the program to process the data.
  • The program will give you a graph with all your indicators. Your now have to interpret the graph into a report that can be read and used by people who are not familiar with graphs and percentages. You can also make a presentation of the process that you went through to arrive at your desired conclusions.

Surveys are very helpful in getting different kinds of information. Mostly used in a business setting you can also use a survey for your academic data mining. The trick is to properly design the survey and including all key points that you will need. A college or university has tons if information that can be turned into useful databases, if the institution has not done it yet, that can be used for academic data mining exercises. You can undertake a project to help the college reposition some of its enrollment procedures, course offerings and curriculum change, and so on.


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