Academic Students’ Progress Indicators and Gender Gaps Based on Survival Analysis and Data Mining Frameworks

A.H. Marshall, Mariangela Zenga*, Aglaia Kalamatianou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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This paper examines gender differences according to two new indicators in higher education studies. One indicator represents the length of studies beyond the minimum requirement and the other represents a harmonised graduation mark. We explore these indicators in a statistical framework that consists of Survival analysis Kaplan–Meier methods, Accelerated Failure Time models, Survival Trees, Multivariate Regression Trees and a modified Gender Parity Index. This unique combination of statistical methods allows both to analyse data involving censoring and to incorporate other explanatory variables in the analysis. The approaches were applied to data taken from a Greek and an Italian University and provide evidence that the survival analysis is a useful tool for exploring gender gaps in higher education while the Accelerated Failure Time model permits the investigation of how other variables can influence the gaps. The data mining techniques of survival trees and multivariate regression trees allows for the importance of such influencing variables to be measured and illustrates these in a simple to view tree structure. The Multivariate Regression Tree approach allows us to consider more than one continuous outcome variable so we were able to consider the two proposed indicators simultaneously. Interesting insights from this analysis are that gender has an important role and women outperform regarding these new indicators by taking less length of studies, less graduation time with higher performance, controlling also for other student characteristics. The modified gender parity index enriched the results in all stages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1097-1128
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Issue number3
Early online date26 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2020


  • Data mining
  • Gender gap
  • Greek and Italian social science students
  • Length of studies
  • Performance on graduation
  • Survival analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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