Adult MOOC Learners as Self-Directed: Perceptions of Motivation, Success, and Completion

Jamie Loizzo, Peggy A. Ertmer, William R. Watson, Sunnie Lee Watson, Online Learning , Jul 17, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

While it's true that you can't learn everything you need to learn from surveys of large numbers of people, if you are doing in-depth studies with a small number of people (12, in this case) then you have to resist the temptation to generalize. The only conclusions you can draw are existence claims and some modal claims (ie., 'x exists', 'some p are q', 'not all q are p', 'x is possible', 'x is not necessary'. These are perfectly legitimate conclusions and in many ways more valuable than generalizations. But the limitations of the method are not respected in the 'Discussion and Implications' section of this paper as it goes far beyond its data to make generalizations about adult learners and to inappropriately derive a conceptual framework. But with these caveats in mind, readers will find this an interesting and engaging paper that performs that most rare of academic feats: giving students a voice. 

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