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Using Decision Trees to Predict Critical Reading Performance.


In Colombia, all undergraduate students, regardless of the professional training program they take, must complete the general competencies sections of the Saber Pro exam that include Critical Reading, Quantitative Reasoning, Citizen Competencies, Written Communication, and English. This paper presents the application of the classification technique based on decision trees in the prediction of the performance in the Critical Reading section presented by the students of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali in the years 2017 and 2018. The CRISP methodology was used. From the socioeconomic, academic and institutional data stored in the ICFES databases, a data repository was built, cleaned and transformed. A mineable view composed of 2052 records and 17 attributes was obtained. The J48 algorithm of the Weka tool was used to build the decision tree. The score obtained in the Critical Reading section of the Saber Pro exam was taken as a class. According to the results obtained, the Philosophy, Applied Mathematics, and Medicine programs stood out for having the best performance in this test. Among the predictive variables associated with performance in the Critical Reading skill are the faculty, the age group and the student's transportation index, as three important variables related to the good or low academic performance of the students of the Universidad Javeriana Cali. The knowledge generated in this research is constituted in quality information to support the decision-making process of the university directives in order to improve the quality of the higher education offered in this institution.


academic performance, critical reading, decision trees, J48 algorithm, Saber Pro


Author Biography

Andrea Timaran-Buchely

Roles: Data curation, Formal Analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing.

Silvio-Ricardo Timarán-Pereira

Roles: Formal Analysis, Investigation, Writing – review & editing.

Arsenio Hidalgo-Troya

Roles: Formal Analysis, Investigation, Writing – review & editing.



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