Friday, February 26

Cohort size and student engagement: a MOOC field Charles Riverexperiment

Guest Speaker: Jiye Baek
Harvard Campus
125 Mt. Auburn, 4th Floor
Meet at the Long Table (left off of the elevators)


MOOCs offer valuable learning experiences to students from all around the world. In addition to providing filmed lectures, readings, and problem sets, many MOOCs allow students to ask and answer questions about course materials with each other through interactive user forums. However, in current MOOCs, only 3 to 5 percent of those students interact in the user forum (Breslow 2013, Rosé et al. 2014) and more than 90 percent of students stop attending the course altogether (Jordan 2014). According to prior studies, this low level of social engagement in MOOCs may lead to student attrition and low performance (Ren et al. 2007). Hence, a natural question that arises then is, how can we promote interaction among students in MOOC discussion forums in order to reduce students’ attrition and raise their performance? In this presentation, I will report on a field experiment on the edX platform to identify factors that promote student engagement in MOOC discussion forums. Researchers have discovered that the number of people interacting in one online location (e.g. group, community or virtual classroom size) is a key characteristic mediating user engagement (Butler et. al 2014), and most prior works have shown that users in a smaller size group participate more per person. However, contrary to prior research, our results show that the students in larger size cohorts interact more per person and that this greater interaction in turn increases student retention and performance.