Refining success and dropout in massive open online courses based on the intention–behaviour gap

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In this paper we present an alternative typology for determining success and dropout in massive open online courses (MOOCs). This typology takes the perspectives of MOOC-takers into account and is based on the their intentions and subsequent behaviour. An explorative study using two MOOCs was carried out to test the applicability of the typology. Following the traditional approach based on course completion to identify educational success, success rates were 6.5 and 5.6%. The success rates from the perspectives of the MOOC-taker were 59 and 70%. These findings demonstrate that merely looking at course completion as a measure for success does not suffice in the context of MOOCs. This change in addressing MOOC success and dropout provides an alternative view and demonstrates the importance of MOOC-takers’ perspectives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-368
JournalDistance Education
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sep 2017



  • Online Learning
  • MOOCs
  • Open Education
  • success
  • dropout
  • intention

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