From the launch of edX the founding universities have emphasized that research into learning will be one of the initiative’s core missions. As numerous articles in both the academic and popular press have pointed out, the ability of MOOCs to generate a tremendous amount of data opens up considerable opportunities for educational research. edX and Coursera have developed platforms that track students’ every click as they use instructional resources, complete assessments, and engage in social interactions. These data have the potential to help researchers identify, at a finer resolution than ever before, what contributes to students’ learning and what hampers their success.
This paper describes an initial study of the data generated by MIT’s first MOOC:
“Circuits and Electronics” (6.002x), which began in March 2012, was the first MOOC developed by edX, the consortium led by MIT and Harvard. Over 155,000 students initially registered for 6.002x, which was composed of video lectures, interactive problems, online laboratories, and a discussion forum. As the course ended in June 2012, researchers began to analyze the rich sources of data it generated. This article describes both the first stage of this research, which examined the students’ use of resources by time spent on each, and a second stage that is producing an in-depth picture of who the 6.002x students were, how their own background and capabilities related to their achievement and persistence, and how their interactions with 6.002x’s curricular and pedagogical components contributed to their level of success in the course.
The author of this paper are:
Lori Breslow is Director of the MIT Teaching and Learning Laboratory (TLL). David Pritchard is a Professor of Physics at MIT and Principal Investigator of the Research in Learning, Assessing and Tutoring Effectively (RELATE) group at MIT. Jennifer DeBoer is a Postdoctoral Associate in Education Research at TLL. Glenda Stump is an Associate Director for Assessment and Evaluation at TLL. Andrew Ho is an Associate Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. At the time of this research, Daniel Seaton was a Postdoctoral Fellow in RELATE; he is now a Postdoctoral Associate in MIT’s Office of Digital Learning (ODL).
You can download the paper here (PDF).
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