Visualizing patterns of student engagement and performance in MOOCs

Carleton Coffrin, Linda Corrin, Paula De Barba, Gregor Kennedy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

167 Citations (Scopus)


In the last five years, the world has seen a remarkable level of interest in Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. A consistent message from universities participating in MOOC delivery is their eagerness to understand students' online learning processes. This paper reports on an exploratory investigation of students' learning processes in two MOOCs which have different curriculum and assessment designs. When viewed through the lens of common MOOC learning analytics, the high level of initial student interest and, ultimately, the high level of attrition, makes these two courses appear very similar to each other, and to MOOCs in general. With the goal of developing a greater understanding of students' patterns of learning behavior in these courses, we investigated alternative learning analytic approaches and visual representations of the output of these analyses. Using these approaches we were able to meaningfully classify student types and visualize patterns of student engagement which were previously unclear. The findings from this research contribute to the educational community's understanding of students' engagement and performance in MOOCs, and also provide the broader learning analytics community with suggestions of new ways to approach learning analytic data analysis and visualization.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLAK 2014
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 4th International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)1595930361, 9781595930361
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Learning Analytics & Knowledge Conference 2014 - Indianapolis, United States of America
Duration: 24 Mar 201428 Mar 2014
Conference number: 4th

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series


ConferenceInternational Learning Analytics & Knowledge Conference 2014
Abbreviated titleLAK 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
Internet address


  • Completion rate
  • Learner engagement patterns
  • Learning analytics
  • MOOC
  • Prior knowledge
  • Visualization

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