From a Million MOOC Users, a Few Early Research Results

Preliminary results of a study of 16 massive open online courses offered through the University of Pennsylvania show that only a small percentage of people who start the courses finish them—and that, on average, only half of those who register for the courses even watch the first lecture.

The study, conducted by the university’s Graduate School of Education, is reviewing data from about a million users of the courses, which Penn offered on the Coursera platform, from June 2012 to June 2013. Two of the seven researchers involved—Laura W. Perna, a professor of higher education, and Alan Ruby, senior fellow for international education—described the study on Thursday in a presentation at the MOOC Research Conference now under way in Arlington, Tex.

The courses varied widely in topic, length, intended audience, amount of work expected, and other details. The largest, “Introduction to Operations Management,” enrolled more than 110,000 students, of whom about 2 percent completed the course. The course with the highest completion rate, “Cardiac Arrest, Resuscitation Science, and Hypothermia,” enrolled just over 40,000 students, of whom 13 percent stuck with it to the end. <Read more.>

Via Lawrence Biemiller, The Chronicle of Higher Education.