The complexity of university curricula according to course cruciality

Ahmad Slim, Jarred Kozlick, Gregory L. Heileman, Chaouki T. Abdallah

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Many universities have recently focused significant efforts on enhancing their graduation rates. Numerous factors may impact a student's ability to succeed and ultimately graduate, including pre-university preparation, as well as the student support services provided by a university. However, even the best efforts to improve in these areas may fail if other institutional factors overwhelm their ability to facilitate student progress. Specifically, in this paper we consider degree to which the underlying curriculum that a student must traverse in order to earn a degree impacts progress. Using complex network analysis and graph theory, this paper proposes a framework for analyzing university course networks at the university, college and departmental levels. The analyses we provide are based on quantifying the importance of a course based on its delay and blocking factors, as well as the number of curricula that incorporate the course, leading to a metric we refer to as the course cruciality. Experimental results, using data from the University of New Mexico, show that the distribution of course cruciality follows a power law distribution. Applications of the proposed framework are extended to study the complexity of curricula within colleges as well as the tendency of a university's disciplines to associate with others that are unlike them. This work may be useful to both students and decision makers at universities as it presents a robust framework for analyzing the ease of flow of students through curricula, which may lead to improvements that facilitate improved student success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2014 8th International Conference on Complex, Intelligent and Software Intensive Systems, CISIS 2014
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Pages242-248
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781479943258
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014
Externally publishedYes
Event2014 8th International Conference on Complex, Intelligent and Software Intensive Systems, CISIS 2014 - Birmingham, United Kingdom
Duration: Jul 2 2014Jul 4 2014

Publication series

NameProceedings - 2014 8th International Conference on Complex, Intelligent and Software Intensive Systems, CISIS 2014

Conference

Conference2014 8th International Conference on Complex, Intelligent and Software Intensive Systems, CISIS 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityBirmingham
Period7/2/147/4/14

Keywords

  • complex networks
  • institutional analytics
  • university curricula

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence

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