Using machine learning to predict factors affecting academic performance: the case of college students on academic probation

Lamees Al-Alawi, Jamil Al Shaqsi, Ali Tarhini*, Adil S. Al-Busaidi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aims to employ the supervised machine learning algorithms to examine factors that negatively impacted academic performance among college students on probation (underperforming students). We used the Knowledge Discovery in Databases (KDD) methodology on a sample of N = 6514 college students spanning 11 years (from 2009 to 2019) provided by a major public university in Oman. We used the Information Gain (InfoGain) algorithm to select the most effective features and ensemble methods to compare the accuracy with more robust algorithms, including Logit Boost, Vote, and Bagging. The algorithms were evaluated based on the performance evaluation metrics such as accuracy, precision, recall, F-measure, and ROC curve, and then validated using 10-folds cross-validation. The study revealed that the main identified factors affecting student academic achievement include study duration in the university and previous performance in secondary school. Based on the experimental results, these features were consistently ranked as the top factors that negatively impacted academic performance. The study also indicated that gender, estimated graduation year, cohort, and academic specialization significantly contributed to whether a student was under probation. Domain experts and other students were involved in verifying some of the results. The theoretical and practical implications of this study are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEducation and Information Technologies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Academic under probation
  • Data Mining
  • Education Data Mining
  • Higher education
  • Oman
  • Predictive models
  • Student Academic performance
  • Supervised learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Library and Information Sciences

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