The role of motivation in MOOCs’ retention rates: a systematic literature review

Mehdi Badali*, Javad Hatami, Seyyedkazem Banihashem, Omid Noroozi, E. Rahimi, Zahra Eslami

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Although MOOCs platforms ofer a unique way to provide information for a large
cohort of participants, only a small percentage of participants complete MOOCs. The
high number of dropouts in MOOCs is a key challenge, and the literature suggests
that it can be afected by participants’ motivation. However, it is not known how and
to what extent motivation infuences participants’ dropout in MOOCs. There is a need
to provide an overview of the role of motivation in MOOCs’ retention. In this study, we
aimed to identify motivational factors and theories that afect participants’ retention in
MOOCs and explain how does motivation supports participants to complete MOOCs.
To do so, a systematic review was conducted using specifc inclusion and exclusion
criteria and a set of relevant keywords and databases which resulted in 50 relevant
publications. Our analysis led us to identify six main motivational factors that infuence
participants’ MOOCs completion including academic, social, course, personal, professional, and technological motives. These factors were divided into two main categories
including need-based motivation and interest-based motivation. The results showed
that academic motives play the most important role in participants’ MOOCs retention
compared to the other factors. It was also found that self-determination theory was
used as the most dominant theory to support participants’ motivation for MOOCs completion. In addition, the results revealed that the motivational factors not only impacts
participants’ MOOCs retention directly, but also this impact is mediated by participant
satisfaction, self-regulation, attitude toward using MOOCs, performance, engagement,
and level of participation. Based on the results, further implications for practice and
future research are provided.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalResearch and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'The role of motivation in MOOCs’ retention rates: a systematic literature review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this