An Analysis of Course Characteristics, Learner Characteristics, and Certification Rates in MITx MOOCs
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), capable of providing free (or low cost) courses for millions of learners anytime and anywhere, have gained the attention of researchers, educational institutions, and learners worldwide. Even though they provide several benefits, there are still some criticisms of MOOCs. For instance, MOOCs’ high dropout rates or predominantly elite participation are considered to be important problems. In order to develop solutions for these problems, a deeper understanding of MOOCs is required. Today, despite the availability of several research studies about MOOCs, there is a shortage of in-depth research on course characteristics, learner characteristics, and predictors of certification rates. This study examined MOOC and learner characteristics in detail and explored the predictors of course certification rates based on data from 122 Massachusetts Institute of Technology MOOCs (MITx) on edX platform as well as data about the 2.8 million participants registered in these MOOCs. The results indicated that as the number of courses offered and the number of learners enrolled increased in years, there was a decrease in the certification rates among enrolled learners. According to our results, the number of average chapters completed, total forum messages, and mean age predicted course certification rates positively. On the other hand, the total number of chapters in a course predicted the course certification rates negatively. Based on these results, shorter and more interactive MOOCs are recommended by considering the needs of the learners, course content design, and strategies encouraging the enrolled students to enter the courses.
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