A Prescriptive Learning Analytics Framework: Beyond Predictive Modelling and onto Explainable AI with Prescriptive Analytics

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A significant body of recent research in the field of Learning Analytics has focused on leveraging machine learning approaches for predicting at-risk students in order to initiate timely interventions and thereby elevate retention and completion rates. The overarching feature of the majority of these research studies has been on the science of prediction only. The component of predictive analytics concerned with interpreting the internals of the models and explaining their predictions for individual cases to stakeholders has largely been neglected. Additionally, works that attempt to employ data-driven prescriptive analytics to automatically generate evidence-based remedial advice for at-risk learners are in their infancy. eXplainable AI is a field that has recently emerged providing cutting-edge tools which support transparent predictive analytics and techniques for generating tailored advice for at-risk students. This study proposes a novel framework that unifies both transparent machine learning as well as techniques for enabling prescriptive analytics. This work practically demonstrates the proposed framework using predictive models for identifying at-risk learners of programme non-completion. The study then further demonstrates how predictive modelling can be augmented with prescriptive analytics on two case studies in order to generate human-readable prescriptive feedback for those who are at risk.