How does time affect achievement in MOOCs?

Jacqueline Wong

One of the critical factors that contributes to learning performance is the time students are actively engaged in a task (i.e., time-on-task). Therefore, in many experimental studies, in order to know whether one experimental condition worked better than the other, researchers would keep the time that students were allowed to spend on the task the same. In MOOCs, the amount of time students spend on task varies. Lee (2018) investigated whether time-on-task influenced the likelihood of students earning a course certificate.

Results of the study showed that MOOC students who completed more activities as well as those who had longer learning sessions per week were more likely to earn a course certificate. Moreover, students’ chances of earning a course certificate increases when the same number of activities were completed in lesser sessions. This suggests that students who complete many activities over fewer sessions had greater chances of achieving a course certificate compared to students who completed many activities over many sessions.

These findings imply that MOOCs designers should consider ways to help students manage their time so that they can spend longer uninterrupted time to complete the activities. Future studies can also investigate whether structuring the course in learning sessions instead of weekly schedules might be more effective for students.

Lee, Y. (2018). Effect of Uninterrupted Time-On-Task on Students’ Success in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Computers in Human Behavior, 86, 174-180.

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