Doctoral defence: Lidia Feklistova “Learners of an introductory programming MOOC: background variables, engagement patterns and performance”

On 13 December at 12:15 Lidia Feklistova will defend her doctoral thesis “Learners of an introductory programming MOOC: background variables, engagement patterns and performance” for obtaining the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (in Computer Science).

Supervisors:
Assoc. Prof. Marina Lepp, University of Tartu
Assoc. Prof. Piret Luik, University of Tartu

Opponents:
Prof. Dr. Valentina Dagienė, Vilnius University (Lithuania)
Prof. Dr. Tobias Ley, University for Continuing Education Krems (Austria)

Summary
One opportunity to facilitate personal and professional development is to participate in massive open online courses (MOOCs). Considering the huge number of participants and diversity of backgrounds, it is a challenge for MOOCs instructors to engage them all in learning. Hereof, it is crucial to get a large picture of not only those who participate and complete a MOOC but also of completers’ engagement patterns.
The doctoral thesis aimed to study participants’ background variables, engagement and performance. The thesis focused on a MOOC “About Programming”. The MOOC participants’ and completers’ profiles were examined in comparison to MOOCs “Introduction to Programming I” and “Introduction to Programming II”. Females and those with a lower education level dominated in the MOOC “About Programming”. Among completers there was no difference by gender or employment statuses. Master’s degree holders were more likely to complete the MOOC, while inexperienced in programming were less likely to complete it.
With regard to performance, no difference between the MOOC “About programming” completers and non-completers in the average number of attempts per quiz was found. But non-completers made on average more attempts per programming task and received lower scores per quiz.
The analysis of behavioural and cognitive engagement solely among completers indicated that they should not be treated as a homogeneous group. In terms of behavioural engagement, there were identified 4 groups based on the amount of activities a completer engaged with during the MOOC. In terms of cognitive engagement, there were identified 5 groups that were differently engaged with help sources. The background variables and performance of members from different groups varied.
The results of the thesis can prove quite beneficial to the scientific literature to understand the phenomenon of MOOC. This comprehension in terms of a variety of background variables, engagement patterns and performance can be helpful for course instructors to develop cost-effective MOOCs and provide personalised learning where different course activities and help sources can be targeted at specific groups.

The defence can also be followed in Zoom (Meeting ID: 980 3332 9918, Passcode: ati).

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