New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Computers in Education
Learners in Advanced Nanotechnology MOOCs: Understanding their Intention and Motivation
Instructional design principles begin with an assessment of the learner. Yet in MOOCs, little is known about learners’ intentions for the course and what their motivation is. In the MOOC environment, learners can enroll in a course with little or no commitment. Indeed, many learners may choose to utilize the course materials more like a textbook; selecting topics of interest, rather than going through the entire sequence. Other learners may desire to fully participate in all aspects. In order to design MOOCs for optimal learning, it is essential that researchers are able to understand what learners want from the experience.
The context of this study is within three-advanced nanotechnology related MOOCs offered through a large MOOC platform provider. By providing cutting-edge research knowledge related to nanotechnology, university faculty have potential to decrease the time between research findings and use by engineers in industry. However, it is unknown whether learners in courses are simply interested in the advanced topics out of curiosity or whether they intend to use the information to further their professional development. Before researchers can study how learning can occur most effectively within the MOOC model, there must first be a level of understanding what learners want from the freely offered content.
From general cognitive view of motivation and learning strategies, we approach understanding motivation and intention of learners in advanced nanotechnology MOOCs. In this research paper, we explore learners in three-advanced nanotechnology MOOCs for the purpose of informing future nanotechnology-related MOOC offerings. This research was guided by the questions, (1) What is the diversity of learners within an advanced nanotechnology MOOC? (2) What are learners’ types of motivation? (3) What are learners’ reasons for enrolling in the course? and (4) What are learners intentions in terms of participation?
To answer these research questions, surveys were embedded as part of the first week’s course material in three courses and combined into a single data set (n = 2507). Questions included two subscales of the Motivational Learning Styles Questionnaire (Pintrich, 1991) as well as other background questions to understand more about learners’ prior knowledge to the course, level of preparation and expectations.
Preliminary Results suggest that on a scale of 1 to 7, learners are significantly more intrinsically (M = 5.76) motivated than externally (M = 3.54) motivated. This suggests that learners are primarily taking the course for their own personal knowledge. Additionally, forty-one percent indicated that they intended to participate in all aspects of the course. Thirty-nine percent said they desired to apply the material learned in the course directly to future projects. The paper will elaborate on results and compare learner types. In addition, the paper will discuss implications for research and learning in engineering MOOC environments.
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