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The role of gender and employment status in MOOC learning: An exploratory study

Dai, H.M., Teo, T.ORCID: 0000-0002-7552-8497 and Rappa, N.A.ORCID: 0000-0002-3217-0296 (2022) The role of gender and employment status in MOOC learning: An exploratory study. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 38 (5). pp. 1360-1370.

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Learners in a given massive open online course (MOOC) are usually provided with the same learning materials, guided by the same syllabus, and assessed in the same format. This “one-size-fits-all” approach constrains learners' ability to reap the optimal benefits from online learning.


This study aims to characterize learners' differences in MOOC learning. Specifically, it examines how learners might vary in their enrolment motivation and the development of continuance intention to learn in a MOOC because of their gender and employment status.


Data were collected via a questionnaire survey. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to analyse data from 664 learners in a Chinese MOOC.

Results and Conclusion

The research revealed significant differences in learners' enrolment motivation across groups defined by employment status, but not for gender groups. Learner groups defined by gender and employment status experienced variant psychological processes when deciding to continue to learn in the MOOC.

Major Takeaways

Working adults stressed the instrumental values derived from MOOC learning; therefore, it is vital to design and integrate additional features into the MOOC to satisfy their needs. Besides, it would be critical to understand female learners' and working adults' expectations of MOOC learning, as they are more sensitive to confirmation in determining their attitudes toward learning in a MOOC. A short pre-course survey of learners' expectations would serve the purpose.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Education
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Copyright: © 2022 The Authors
United Nations SDGs: Goal 4: Quality Education
Goal 5: Gender Equality
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