About MOOC Completion Rates: The Importance of Student Investment

Tucker Balch, Jan 11, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

When you look at how many people clicked on the login form, completion rates in a MOOC are very low. But when you look at those who completed teh first assignment, completion rates are much higher. Investment matters. "We need to recognize that completion rates for MOOCs really have a different meaning than those for regular university courses. This is mainly because of the differing level of investment the students make from the start." Making students pay might raise the completion rate, suggests Tucker Balch, who just fin ished teaching a Coursera MOOC in which 53,000 students signed up and 4.8 percent completed. But one wonders what the purpose of such a measure would be. "If we continue to keep the barrier to entry low, we’ll enable students to taste many many courses, and that may be a good thing for education."

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