Data Balancing Techniques for Predicting Student Dropout Using Machine Learning
Predicting student dropout is a challenging problem in the education sector. This is due to an imbalance in student dropout data, mainly because the number of registered students is always higher than the number of dropout students. Developing a model without taking the data imbalance issue into account may lead to an ungeneralized model. In this study, different data balancing techniques were applied to improve prediction accuracy in the minority class while maintaining a satisfactory overall classification performance. Random Over Sampling, Random Under Sampling, Synthetic Minority Over Sampling, SMOTE with Edited Nearest Neighbor and SMOTE with Tomek links were tested, along with three popular classification models: Logistic Regression, Random Forest, and Multi-Layer Perceptron. Publicly accessible datasets from Tanzania and India were used to evaluate the effectiveness of balancing techniques and prediction models. The results indicate that SMOTE with Edited Nearest Neighbor achieved the best classification performance on the 10-fold holdout sample. Furthermore, Logistic Regression correctly classified the largest number of dropout students (57348 for the Uwezo dataset and 13430 for the India dataset) using the confusion matrix as the evaluation matrix. The applications of these models allow for the precise prediction of at-risk students and the reduction of dropout rates.