Technology in the Service of Students: Rule-Based Expert Systems for Supporting University Students and Processes

Courses and grants are highly important aspects of higher education all over the globe. Nowadays, engaging with students is a more complex and student-demand driven process. Moreover, there is  an information overload on the student side, as considerable amount of information needs to be translated and clarified.

The counseling of students is usually performed by human advisors, bringing an immense administrative workload to faculty members, as well as other staff at universities. Bearing in mind that there are more than 15 million college understudies within the US alone, the significance of any help that can facilitate counseling and advising becomes obvious. A team of seven specialists from academia and industry (Gurdal Ertek, Gökhan Motor, Burak Aksoyer, Melike Avdagic, Damla Bozanlı, Umutcan Hanay and Deniz Maden) have developed two educational expert systems that can support and even replace human counsels regarding the matter of academic advising. The published research paper reports and discusses the development of the two educational expert systems applied at a private international university.

The first expert system is a course advising system, which recommends courses to undergraduate students, while the second expert system recommends grants to undergraduate students based on their qualification. Both systems have been implemented and tested using Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) software.

So, what are rule-based systems?

A rule-based system is a software, with the capacity to imitate the decision-making ability and expertise of human specialists. They are designed to solve problems as humans do, by using encoded human know-how or ability.  The know-how can be extracted and obtained directly through interaction with people, as well as from printed and electronic assets such as books, magazines, and websites.

There are many advantages of rule-based systems: they decrease costs since they reduce the requirement for human specialists; they are permanent; they can be utilized for different tasks and within a variety of information systems; they minimize errors usually made by humans. These aspects of rule-based systems increase functionality, reliability, and usability of such systems.

The first project presented in the study is Supporting Course Selection Decisions where the aim of authors was to create a rule-based system for Manufacturing Systems Engineering Program students at Sabanci University to prepare their schedules using Oracle Policy Automation (OPA).

The objective of the second one, Supporting Scholarship Decisions was to assist university students by giving suggestions on which scholarships in Turkey they are eligible for. There are numerous institutions that offer scholarships to university students , however, each foundation’s criteria and budget is distinctive. The aim of authors was to coordinate universities students with the scholarships that they are eligible for.  This can decrease a task that would take weeks to minutes.

Details of the research study can be found here: