Exploratory study of MOOC learners’ demographics and motivation: The case of students involved in groups

Rebecca Yvonne Bayeck


This paper reports preliminary findings on students enrolled in a massive open online course, who were also assigned to work in groups. Part of a larger study on the effect of groups on retention and completion in MOOCs, the paper provides students’ demographics (i.e., location, gender, education level, and employment status), and motivation for taking the course. Findings show that women outnumbered men and that students mostly enrolled into the course because of a friend. Indeed, research on MOOCs demonstrates that men outnumber women and that educational pursuit and professional development are the main motivators for taking MOOCs. Yet, this paper shows that when group work is included in a MOOC, women participate more. Furthermore, for students assigned to groups in a MOOC, friends are the principal incentive for enrolling into the course. These results are discussed in light of previous research, and implications for teaching and learning in online environments addressed.


MOOCs; demographics; motivations; group learning; gender

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5944/openpraxis.8.3.282


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