Tendencies towards DEEP or SURFACE learning for participants taking a large massive open online course (MOOC)

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Engineering Fundamentals


In this report we will describe our first steps in understanding the characteristics of individuals enrolling and completing MOOCs. The learner characteristic we focus on is the deep versus shallow learning dimension. We will use the revised two-factor study process questionnaire of Biggs in our study [1]. To our knowledge, there is no comparable research either reported in the literature or currently under way. Our focus is on Learning How to Learn (LHTL), currently the most heavily subscribed course on the Coursera platform. The last offering of LHTL, completed in January, 2015, attracted just under a quarter million learners. In the fourth and final week of the course, the R-SPQ-2F survey instrument was made available to all students on the LHTL site. Approximately 1,600 students completed the survey. We believe our research to be of interest widely because of the confluence in our research of (a) MOOCs, (b) the deep versus surface learning dimension, and (c) a methodology that can lead to better understanding of MOOCs.

Publisher's Statement

© 2015 IEEE. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1109/FIE.2015.7344144

Publication Title

Proceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE