Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Computer Science

Committee Chair(s)

Xiaojun Qi


Xiaojun Qi


Nicholas Flann


Mimi Recker


There are common pitfalls and neglected areas when using clustering approaches to solve educational problems. A clustering algorithm is often used without the choice being justified. Few comparisons between a selected algorithm and a competing algorithm are presented, and results are presented without validation. Lastly, few studies fully utilize data provided in an educational environment to evaluate their findings. In response to these problems, this thesis describes a rigorous study comparing two clustering algorithms in the context of an educational digital library service, called the Instructional Architect. First, a detailed description of the chosen clustering algorithm, namely, latent class analysis (LCA), is presented. Second, three kinds of preprocessed data are separately applied to both the selected algorithm and a competing algorithm, namely, K-means algorithm. Third, a series of comprehensive evaluations on four aspects of each clustering result, i.e., intra-cluster and inter-cluster distances, Davies-Bouldin index, users' demographic profile, and cluster evolution, are conducted to compare the clustering results of LCA and K-means algorithms. Evaluation results show that LCA outperforms K-means in producing consistent clustering results at different settings, finding compact clusters, and finding connections between users' teaching experience and their effectiveness in using the IA. The implication, contributions, and limitation of this research are discussed.




This work made publicly available electronically on June 10, 2011.