The timeliness deviation: A novel approach to evaluate educational recommender systems for closed-courses
The decision on what item to learn next in a course can be supported by a recommender system (RS), which aims at making the learning process more efficient and effective. However, learners and learning activities frequently change over time. The question is: how are timely appropriate recommendations of learning resources actually evaluated and how can they be compared? Researchers have found that, in addition to a standardized dataset definition, there is also a lack of standardized definitions of evaluation procedures for RS in the area of Technology Enhanced Learning. This paper argues that, in a closed-course setting, a time-dependent split into the training set and test set is more appropriate than the usual cross-validation to evaluate the Top-N recommended learning resources at various points in time. Moreover, a new measure is introduced to determine the timeliness deviation between the point in time of an item recommendation and the point in time of the actual access by the user. Different recommender algorithms, including two novel ones, are evaluated with the time-dependent evaluation framework and the results, as well as the appropriateness of the framework, are discussed.