NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
PDF on ERIC Download full text
ERIC Number: EJ1173275
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018-Jan
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1531-7714
Random Forest as a Predictive Analytics Alternative to Regression in Institutional Research
He, Lingjun; Levine, Richard A.; Fan, Juanjuan; Beemer, Joshua; Stronach, Jeanne
Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, v23 n1 Jan 2018
In institutional research, modern data mining approaches are seldom considered to address predictive analytics problems. The goal of this paper is to highlight the advantages of tree-based machine learning algorithms over classic (logistic) regression methods for data-informed decision making in higher education problems, and stress the success of random forest in circumstances where the regression assumptions are often violated in big data applications. Random forest is a model averaging procedure where each tree is constructed based on a bootstrap sample of the data set. In particular, we emphasize the ease of application, low computational cost, high predictive accuracy, flexibility, and interpretability of random forest machinery. Our overall recommendation is that institutional researchers look beyond classical regression and single decision tree analytics tools, and consider random forest as the predominant method for prediction tasks. The proposed points of view are detailed and illustrated through a simulation experiment and analyses of data from real institutional research projects.
Center for Educational Assessment. 813 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA 01002. e-mail:; Tel: 413-577-2180; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A