Accepted Papers

Optimizing Peer Learning in Online Groups with Affinities

Mohammadreza Esfandiari (NJIT);Dong Wei (NJIT);Sihem Amer-Yahia (CNRS);Senjuti Basu Roy (New Jersey Institute Of Technology);

We investigate online group formation where members seek to increase their learning potential via collaboration. We capture two common learning models: LpA where each member learns from all higher skilled ones, and LpD where the least skilled member learns from the most skilled one. We formulate the problem of forming groups with the purpose of optimizing peer learning under different affinity structures: AffD where group affinity is the smallest between all members, and AffC where group affinity is the smallest between a designated member (e.g., the least skilled or the most skilled) and all others. This gives rise to multiple variants of a multiobjective optimization problem. We propose principled modeling of these problems and investigate theoretical and algorithmic challenges. We first present hardness results, and then develop computationally efficient algorithms with constant approximation factors. Our real-data experiments demonstrate with statistical significance that forming groups considering affinity improves learning. Our extensive synthetic experiments demonstrate the qualitative and scalability aspects of our solutions.


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