Persistence patterns in massive open online courses (MOOCs)

Posted on March 17th, 2016

A new study published in The Journal of Higher Education examines factors that best predict student engagement, persistence, and completion in MOOCs. Researchers collected data from more than two million students registered in a range of MOOCs run out of Vanderbilt University. Several course features were found to be predictive of patterns of engagement and persistence. For example, students who completed a pre-course survey or who were motivated to enroll in the MOOC due to the course’s affiliation with a prestigious university were more likely to persist. They also found that introductory and overview lectures and the first lecture of the week experienced higher viewing rates—this suggests that potential course design changes, such as including vital information in the first video of the week, can help increase engagement, persistence, and completion in an online education setting.