Examining the Relations among Student Motivation, Engagement, and Retention in a MOOC: A Structural Equation Modeling Approach

Yao Xiong, Hongli Li, Mindy L. Kornhaber, Hoi K. Suen, Barton Pursel, Deborah D. Goins


Students who are enrolled in MOOCs tend to have different motivational patterns than fee-paying college students. A majority of MOOC students demonstrate characteristics akin more to "tourists" than formal learners. As a consequence, MOOC studentsΓÇÖ completion rate is usually very low. The current study examines the relations among student motivation, engagement, and retention using structural equation modeling and data from a Penn State University MOOC. Three distinct types of motivation are examined: intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, and social motivation. Two main hypotheses are tested: (a) motivation predicts student course engagement; and (b) student engagement predicts their retention in the course. The results show that motivation is significantly predictive of student course engagement. Furthermore, engagement is a strong predictor of retention. The findings suggest that promoting student motivation and monitoring individual studentsΓÇÖ online activities might improve course retention.


MOOC; Retention; Motivation; Engagement

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ISSN: 2325-663X