Goal Setting and MOOC Completion

A Study on the Role of Self-Regulated Learning in Student Performance in Massive Open Online Courses

  • Erwin Handoko University of Houston
  • Susie L. Gronseth University of Houston
  • Sara G. McNeil University of Houston
  • Curtis J. Bonk Indiana University Bloomington
  • Bernard R. Robin University of Houston
Keywords: SRL, MOOC completion, OSLQ, massive open online course, online self-regulated learning questionnaire, goal setting, self-regulated learning


Despite providing advanced coursework online to learners around the world, massive open online courses (MOOCs) have had notoriously low completion rates. Self-regulated learning (SRL) frames strategies that students can use to enhance motivation and promote their engagement, persistence, and performance self-monitoring. Understanding which SRL subprocesses are most relevant to the MOOC learning context can guide course designers and instructors on how to incorporate key SRL aspects into the design and delivery of MOOCs. Through surveying 643 MOOC students using the Online Self-Regulated Learning Questionnaire (OSLQ), the present study sought to understand the differences in the use of SRL between those who completed their course and those who did not. MOOC completers were found to have significantly higher applications of one SRL specific subprocess, namely goal setting. Additional SRL subprocesses of task interest/values, causal attribution, time management, self-efficacy, and goal-orientation also emerged from an analysis of open-ended responses as key contributors to course completion. The findings from this study provide further support regarding the role of SRL in MOOC student performance and offer insight into learners’ perceptions on the importance of SRL subprocesses in reaching course completion.

Author Biography

Erwin Handoko, University of Houston

Program Director 1

Department of Curriculum and Instruction

College of Education

University of Houston

How to Cite
Handoko, E., Gronseth, S. L., McNeil, S. G., Bonk, C. J., & Robin, B. R. (2019). Goal Setting and MOOC Completion: A Study on the Role of Self-Regulated Learning in Student Performance in Massive Open Online Courses. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 20(3). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v20i4.4270
Research Articles