Role of Learning Strategies in Massive Open Online Courses

Jacqueline Wong

Learners’ motivation and learning strategies used in Massive Open Online Courses are important research areas to understand the issues and challenges that learners’ face when learning in such environment. Alario-Hoyos, Estévez-Ayres, Pérez-Sanagustín, Kloos, and Fernández-Panadero (2017) collected responses on Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) from 6335 learners enrolled in a MOOC titled Introduction to Programming with Java offered on the edX platform. Results showed that MOOC learners were generally highly motivated. The means obtained for self-reported motivations in terms of intrinsic goal orientation, task value, self-efficacy for learning and performance were on average 5.5 out of 7 (the highest obtainable rating).  For self-reported learning strategies, the means were relatively lower than the means for motivation. Learners found it hard to stick to a study schedule and cannot find enough time to review before an exam.

In another study, Magen-Nagar and Cohen (2017) collected responses on MSLQ from 163 high school learners who took a unique program in Israel that required them to take a MOOC on either astronomy or robot in portable-end tools offered on the Coursera platform. The results showed that learners taking the Mechatronic-robotics MOOC had higher motivation, sense of achievement and used more learning strategies than learners taking the astronomy MOOC. Analysis of Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) showed that:

  1. The higher the learners’ motivation, the higher the learners’ sense of achievement.
  2. The higher the learners’ motivation, the more they used learning strategies.
  3. The more the learners used learning strategies, the higher their sense of achievement.

All in all, use of learning strategies in both groups mediated the relationship between motivation and sense of achievement. The authors concluded that learning in MOOCs is an independent activity, as such, learners need to use effective learning strategies to promote their learning.

Both studies suggest that the use of effective learning strategies is important for learning in MOOCs. Yet, learners might not know what learning strategies are effective and when to use which learning strategies. Therefore, future research in MOOCs should look into the learning strategies that learners need to employ and how to support the use of these learning strategies. 

Alario-Hoyos, C., Estévez-Ayres, I., Pérez-Sanagustín, M., Kloos, C. D., & Fernández-Panadero, C. (2017). Understanding learners’ motivation and learning strategies in MOOCs. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning18(3).

Magen-Nagar, N., & Cohen, L. (2017). Learning strategies as a mediator for motivation and a sense of achievement among students who study in MOOCs. Education and Information Technologies22(3), 1271-1290.

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