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Project #4: What are Reasons Behind the High Dropout Rate in Massive Open

Online Courses (MOOCs)?

For this project, I had three goals. For the personal goal: I have taken a

MOOC with four friends who are graduate students at NIU, and they all

dropped the MOOC except for me. I wonder why they did not complete the

MOOC although it was free, open, and attractive at least for me. Thus, I am

yearning to know the reason behind this issue. For the practical goal, this

project attempts to add worth to the improvement of MOOCs and decrease

MOOCs attrition and high dropout rate. Therefore, the proposed project

attempted to explore the reasons behind the high dropout rate in MOOCs and

how MOOCs learners motivation level is interrelated to this issue by using

the ARCS motivation model as a framework. It was an attempt at developing

future MOOCs design in order to improve learners motivation, thus

increasing the completion rate in MOOCs. In addition, it sought to provide

recommendations for MOOCs providers such as Coursera, edX, and Udacity.

For the intellectual goal: this project focused on exploring how learners

motivation causes the high dropout rate in MOOCs. Thus, it contributed to

the collective understanding of why the majority of people do not compete

their MOOCs although they are open and free.

Artifact #4

Evidence of Mastery of Objectives :

#1: Design a study of an educational research problem or phenomenon using appropriate


This objective has been met because this project was designed to explore an issue of

MOOCs and used an appropriate methodology which was qualitative research design. It focused

on MOOCs completion and why learners do not complete their MOOCs although they are free

and open.

#2: Distinguish between ethical and unethical behavior when conducting educational

research or evaluations.

This objective has been met in this project. For example, to introduce my study to the

four subjects who are the interviewees of this study, I texted and called them to meet at Dunkin

Donuts because it is close to where they live. I told them that I am doing research about the

relationship between the completion rate in MOOCs and learners motivation, and I told them

that I am concentrating on four categories which are attention, relevance, confidence and

satisfaction. I confirmed to them that I am a doctoral candidate, which they already knew, and I

have been interested in this topic for more than one year. Also, I told them that I am doing this

research as a required project for my degree.

Because we have known each other since 2014, they already know that I am a Ph.D.

student and am doing research. They are familiar with education and MOOCs. Also, they have

prior knowledge about the four motivational categories.

So far, I have not faced any problems with my informants. I wondered if our personal

relationship might affect their answers. I did not think so, but I was a little bit concerned about

that. Therefore, I tried to keep reminding them that this study is important and should be valid
and reliable, so they need to show me what their real thoughts and feelings are regardless of our

strong relationship.

I tried to extract the informants thoughts and feelings towards my research topic through

the interview questions. I facilitated the interviews by helping them to really tell me what they

thought. I did so by making the conversations more informal and funny, so that they would not

feel stressed. I found that it was important to tell my informants the purpose of our meeting

before we met, so that they could prepare their minds for the meeting. Thus, permission was

taken verbally from all the informants. During the interviews with all four students, recording

their responses was important to me in order to be able to listen again to them in order to

construct solid data analyses.

#3: Engage in research-related activities in diverse settings.

This objective has been met because I have done interviews in more than one place, and

with more than one person, and from other culture.