Analyzing the Impact of Using Optional Activities in Self-Regulated Learning

Jose A. Ruiperez-Valiente, Pedro J. Muñoz-Merino, Carlos Delgado Kloos, Katja Niemann, Maren Scheffel, Martin Wolpers

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Self-regulated learning (SRL) environments provide students with activities to improve their learning (e.g., by solving exercises), but they might also provide optional activities (e.g., changing an avatar image or setting goals) where students can decide whether they would like to use or do them and how. Few works have dealt with the use of optional activities in SRL environments. This paper thus analyzes the use of optional activities in two case studies with a SRL approach. We found that the level of use of optional activites was low with only 23.1 percent of students making use of some functionality, while the level of use of learning activities was higher. Optional activities which are not related to learning are used more. We also explored the behavior of students using some of the optional activities in the courses such as setting goals and voting comments, finding that students finished the goals they set in more than 50 percent of the time and that they voted their peers’ comments in a positive way. We also found that gender and the type of course can influence which optional activities are used. Moreover, the relations of the use of optional activities with proficient exercises and learning gains is low when taking out third variables, but we believe that optional activities might motivate students and produce better learning in an indirect way.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-243
JournalIEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2016


  • learning analytics
  • MOOCs
  • optional activities
  • self-regulated learning
  • Khan Academy

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    Ruiperez-Valiente, J. A., Muñoz-Merino, P. J., Delgado Kloos, C., Niemann, K., Scheffel, M., & Wolpers, M. (2016). Analyzing the Impact of Using Optional Activities in Self-Regulated Learning. IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies, 9(3), 231-243.