Personalized Course Sequence Recommendations

Jie Xu, Tianwei Xing, Mihaela Van Der Schaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Given the variability in student learning, it is becoming increasingly important to tailor courses as well as course sequences to student needs. This paper presents a systematic methodology for offering personalized course sequence recommendations to students. First, a forward-search backward-induction algorithm is developed that can optimally select course sequences to decrease the time required for a student to graduate. The algorithm accounts for prerequisite requirements (typically present in higher level education) and course availability. Second, using the tools of multiarmed bandits, an algorithm is developed that can optimally recommend a course sequence that both reduces the time to graduate while also increasing the overall GPA of the student. The algorithm dynamically learns how students with different contextual backgrounds perform for given course sequences and, then, recommends an optimal course sequence for new students. Using real-world student data from the UCLA Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, we illustrate how the proposed algorithms outperform other methods that do not include student contextual information when making course sequence recommendations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7524023
Pages (from-to)5340-5352
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Signal Processing
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 15 2016


  • Personalized education
  • contextual bandits
  • course sequence recommendation
  • dynamic programming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Personalized Course Sequence Recommendations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this