EMOOCs2015: Reconsidering Retention in MOOCs: the Relevance of Formal Assessment and Pedagogy

emoocs2015-proceeding-papers-coverPaper presented at the European Stakeholders summit on experiences and best practices in and around MOOCs in Mons, Belgium (18-20 May 2015).


The motivation to enrol in a MOOC is more diverse than the motivation for a conventional course. This diversity requires re-conceptualization of the terms for enrolment, participation, and achievement. The paper addresses the concept of retention and focuses on engagement relative to assessment. Student retention is often used to determine the value of higher education. In this paper we argue that retention data about specific groups of students

can supply valuable insights to improve MOOC design and align expectations. The paper reports three short studies conducted to gain insights into disengagement from assessment, based on the data gathered in the first five DelftX MOOCs. The empirical part of the paper demonstrates that retention rates in relation to formal assessment vary from course to course. In the analysed case, fewer learners disengaged from the formal assessment in the course with highest degree of student autonomy, high learning support and scaffolds. Consistently across courses, learners who received lower grades on the first assessment task, tend to disengage from further assessment.


De Vries, P., Hennis, T., Skrypnyk, A., (2015). Reconsidering Retention in MOOCs: the Relevance of Formal Assessment and Pedagogy in Proceedings Paper EMOOCs 2015 (page 168-173): http://www.emoocs2015.eu/sites/default/files/Papers.pdf

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