The objective of this research is to mine textual data (e.g., online discussion forums) generated by students enrolled in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in order to quantify students’ sentiment, in relation to their course performance. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are free to anyone with a computing device and a means of connecting to the internet and serve as a new paradigm for distance based education. While student interactions in traditional based brick and mortar classes are readily observable by students and instructors, quantifying the sentiments expressed by students in MOOCs remains challenging. This is in part due to the quantity of textual data being generated by students enrolled in MOOCs, in addition to a lack of quantitative methodologies that discover latent, previously unknown knowledge pertaining to student interactions and sentiments in the digital world.
The authors of this work introduce a data mining driven methodology that employs natural language processing techniques and text mining algorithms to quantify students’ sentiments, based on their textual data provided during course assignment discussions. The researchers of this work aim to help educators understand the factors that may impact student performance, team interactions and overall learning outcomes in digital environments such as MOOCs.