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Do planning prompts increase educational success? Evidence from randomized controlled trials in MOOCs

Mark Andor, Katja M. Fels, Jan Renz and Sylvi Rzepka

No 790, Ruhr Economic Papers from RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen

Abstract: Massive Open Online Courses are a promising educational innovation. Yet, they suffer from high drop-out rates. As a remedy, we propose a planning prompt and test its effect on course completion and further outcomes such as course engagement and satisfaction in four large-scale randomized controlled trials. The results reveal an overall null effect on the completion rate, ruling out effect sizes beyond the [-7%, 3%] interval. However, this overall effect masks heterogeneity across and within courses: In one course the planning prompt increases course completion by 19%, highlighting the importance of replications in slightly different contexts. Using random causal forests, we also reveal tendencies for differential effects by subgroups. Better targeting could hence improve the effectiveness of planning prompts in online learning.

Keywords: massive open online courses; planning prompt; behavioral economics; natural field experiment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I21 I29 C93 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu and nep-exp
Date: 2018
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