Differences in online study behaviour between sub-populations of MOOC learners


  • Amy Woodgate UNED
  • Hamish Macleod University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  • Anne-Marie Scott University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  • Jeff Haywood University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK



Palabras clave:

cursos masivos abiertos en línea, MOOC, comportamiento del estudiante, aprendizaje en línea, diseño de cursos, apoyo al estudiante.


Information was gathered about learners who were studying on repeat offerings in 2013-14 of six University of Edinburgh MOOCs on the Coursera platform. Two sources of information were used in this study: learner-contributed information about themselves and their study intentions collected in voluntary surveys, and data about learner behaviours, including performance on the courses, collected from the platform software during the MOOC deliveries. Three aspects of learner attributes and behaviours were analysed to investigate: whether learners who took the same MOOC twice performed better the second time; whether learners managed to achieve the goals that they said they had before the course began, in particular, achievement of a Statement of Accomplishment (SoA), and wheter learners who did persist in the MOOCs and gained SoAs exhibited different behaviours with respect to their use of the online features of the MOOC platform.

Of the small number of MOOC repeating learners, most were drawn from those who had been active in their first round of study, and of those who were not active in their first round, they mainly failed to be active in their second, suggesting structural reasons for their lack of activity. A small number of MOOC repeat learners gained a second SoA.

There was a very strong age-dependency in the likelihood of gaining an SoA, and younger learners were much less successful at turning intention to gain an SoA into that outcome.

In terms of use of online tools, apart from watching videos, in which learners who did not achieve an SoA were similar to those who did, SoA-learners used the online tools more frequently, in an particular reading and posting to the online forums. The implications for course design and support are discussed.


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