Massive open online courses (MOOCs) require individual learners to be able to self-regulate their learning, determining when and how they engage. However, MOOCs attract a diverse range of learners, each with different motivations and prior experience. We carried out a number of studies investigating self-regulated learning in MOOCs.
One study (Littlejohn et al, 2015) was an empirical investigation of learner motivations and learning strategies in MOOCs. We analysed how learners’ motivations for taking a MOOC influenced their behaviour and employment of self-regulated learning strategies. Following a quantitative investigation of the learning behaviours of 788 MOOC participants, follow-up interviews were conducted with 32 learners. The study compares the narrative descriptions of behaviour between learners with self-reported high and low SRL scores. Substantial differences were detected between the self-described learning behaviours of these two groups in five of the sub-processes examined. Substantial differences in learning behaviours were detected between learners who perceived the self-regulation as good or low. Learners’ motivations and goals were found to shape how they conceptualised the purpose of the MOOC, which in turn affected their perception of the learning process. A consequence is that learning in MOOCs cannot be fully understood by quantitative learning analytics alone and requires qualitative investigation of cognitive and behavioural commitments of individual learners.
Littlejohn, A., Hood, N, Milligan, C. & Mustain, P. (2015) Learning in MOOCs: Motivations and Self-Regulated Learning in MOOCs, Internet and Higher Education
Another study (Hood et al, 2015) evidences how each learner’s current role and context influences their ability to self-regulate their learning in a MOOC. The study compared the self-reported self-regulated learning behaviour between learners from different contexts and with different roles. Significant differences were identified between learners who were working as data professionals or studying towards a higher education degree and other learners in the MOOC. This work provides insight into how an individual’s context and role may impact their learning behaviour in MOOCs.
Hood, N, Littlejohn, A. & Milligan, C. (2015) Context Counts: how learners’ contexts influence learning in a MOOC, Computers and Education [impact factor 2.059] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360131515300683