Students Who Comment More in MOOCs Have Higher Rates of Completion

Feds Finalize Assessment Parts of ESSA

A recent study found that students who comment more on massive open online courses (MOOCs) are more likely to complete the course than those who do not comment.

The study, published in the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning (JCAL), examined three areas of interest:

1. The number of comments made on MOOCs;
2. The demographics of groups who make fewer or more comments; and
3. The relationship between commenters and MOOC completion.

The researchers surveyed more than 25,000 learners in nine MOOCs between 2014 and 2015. In relation to the first question, the researchers found that the median number of comments made on MOOCs was only three. Many students made at least one comment, while only a small number made many. For example, the top 10 percent of all commenters made at least 16 comments.

The researchers also found significant differences between students who commented frequently and those who did not comment. Learners were more likely to comment frequently if they were older, worked part-time or not at all, were well educated and had taken an online course before. Likewise, students were less likely to comment if they were younger and worked or studied full-time. There was no significant difference regarding gender or country of origin.

Finally, the researchers concluded that students who commented more frequently were much more likely to complete a MOOC than those who never commented. The authors of the study pointed out that they didn’t wish to make a direct connection between those who didn’t comment and non-completion of MOOCs. Many do finish courses and are active in other ways, such as reading or liking posts. However, the more comments a student made in a MOOC, the more likely he or she was to complete the course.

Overall, MOOCs, while gaining in popularity, still have very low completion rates. In fact, only between 5 and 12 percent of students who enroll in a MOOC complete it, according to the JCAL study and previous studies.

To read the full JCAL study, visit this site. To learn more about the issue of MOOCs and commenters, visit the New Learning Times website. To learn more about MOOCs, visit this Educause site.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].