Supporting learners' self-regulated learning in Massive Open Online Courses

Renée S. Jansen, Anouschka van Leeuwen, Jeroen Janssen, Rianne Conijn, Liesbeth Kester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

138 Citations (Scopus)


In MOOCs, learners are typically presented with great autonomy over their learning process. Therefore, learners should engage in self-regulated learning (SRL) in order to successfully study in a MOOC. Learners however often struggle to self-regulate their learning. We implemented an SRL intervention in three MOOCs. The intervention consisted of three short videos containing SRL instruction and study suggestions to improve learners' SRL. We tested the effects of the SRL intervention on both learners' course completion as well as on learners' SRL. Learners' SRL was measured with trace data variables indicating SRL activity. The results showed that the intervention positively affected learners' course completion. Furthermore, the learners who complied with the intervention also engaged in more SRL activities compared to the learners in the control condition: learners who complied showed more metacognitive activities before learning (planning), help seeking, and persistence. Intervention compliance was however low. Further analyses exploring potential causes of the low intervention compliance were conducted. The great majority of learners who did not comply with the intervention dropped out of the MOOC before they encountered the implemented intervention. We conclude that the SRL intervention has been successful in supporting both learners' SRL as well as their course completion. Implications include the importance of supporting learners' SRL as well as the necessity to conduct further research on how to improve intervention compliance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103771
Number of pages17
JournalComputers and Education
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


The authors wish to thank all those who collaborated to make implementation of the intervention in the three MOOCs possible. This work is financed via a grant by the Dutch National Initiative for Education Research ( NRO )/The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science under the grant nr. 405-15-705 (SOONER/ ).

FundersFunder number
Dutch National Initiative for Education Research
Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap405-15-705
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek
Nationaal Regieorgaan Onderwijsonderzoek


    • Intervention
    • MOOC
    • Online learning
    • Self-regulated learning
    • Trace data


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