Why Do So Many MOOC Students Drop Out?

Published August 15, 2013

group-studySince the advent of the Internet, a whole new opportunity in the area of education has opened up. Massive open online courses, better known MOOC, have made study fields as varied as veterinary studies to biomedical engineering available in the comfort of home. While more students are beginning to enroll in online courses, statistics show that the vast majority of students are failing to finish these free courses.

How High Are Dropout Rates?

Dropout rates for MOOC are astronomical. One widely reported figure estimates that a whopping 90 percent of students do not graduate. When compared to traditional college environments, this number would be highly unacceptable. However, this number is figured by comparing the number of students who register for classes to the number who finish. Many argue that this is an unfair figure as it does not factor in the number of students who never proceeded past the initial registration process.

Why Are Students Dropping Out?

Online classes offer convenience, so it is hard to understand why someone would give up the opportunity to further their education when it is so easy to fit into most schedules. Researchers are finding some interesting patterns. Most potential students are simply curious about the idea of completing online classes, but they have no intention on completion. Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller stated, “Their intent is to explore, find out something about the content, and move on to something else.”

Potential Solutions for Higher MOOC Graduation Rates

Given the current problem MOOC are facing, there have been some suggested solutions to help reduce the number of dropouts. For starters, it has been observed that students who submit their first homework assignment are 45 percent more likely to complete the course study. Therefore, by finding out prior to registration if the student has the intent to finish could help lower the rate.

Furthermore, it has also been recognized that students who sign up for the company’s new Signature Track program are 70 percent more likely to graduate. The program highlights security features that reduce the chances of identity theft and cheating, and it costs $50. It is believed that, since students made an initial financial investment, this is keeping them in the program. Many of the classes are free, and students of these courses are under no obligations.

Great Way to Succeed

While much is being done to correct the current problem faced by MOOC, many dedicated students have found success through this educational medium in fields as varied as veterinary studies, to biomedical engineering, to interior design to court reporting. While MOOCs can certainly increase student success rates through further study and optimization of their course delivery, the responsibility for success ultimately lies on the student.

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