January 20, 2022

New Article: “Studying Learning in the Worldwide Classroom: Research into edX’s First MOOC”

The following article was published today in the journal Research & Practice in Assessment.


Studying Learning in the Worldwide Classroom: Research into edX’s First MOOC


Lori Breslow
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

David E. Pritchard
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Jennifer DeBoer
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Glenda S. Stump
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Andrew D. Ho
Harvard University

Daniel T. Seaton
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Research & Practice in Assessment
Volume 8, Summer 2013


“Circuits and Electronics” (6.002x), which began in March 2012, was the first MOOC developed by edX, the consortium led by MIT and Harvard. Over 155,000 students initially registered for 6.002x, which was composed of video lectures, interactive problems, online laboratories, and a discussion forum. As the course ended in June 2012, researchers began to analyze the rich sources of data it generated. This article describes both the first stage of this research, which examined the students’ use of resources by time spent on each, and a second stage that is producing an in-depth picture of who the 6.002x students were, how their own background and capabilities related to their achievement and persistence, and how their interactions with 6.002x’s curricular and pedagogical components contributed to their level of success in the course.

From the Article: On the Completion Rate For This MOOC

One of the more troubling aspects of MOOCs to date is their low completion rate, which averages no more than 10%. This was true of 6.002x as well, with less than 5% of the students who signed up at any one time completing the course. Specifically, of the 154,763 students who registered for 6.002x, we know that 23,349 tried the first problem set; 10,547 made it to the mid-term; 9,318 passed the midterm; 8,240 took the final; and 7,157 earned a certificate. In other words, 6.002x was a funnel with students “leaking out” at various points along the way. 

Direct to Full Text Article (13 pages; PDF)

Direct to Table of Contents For Summer 2013 Issue
Contains additional articles about MOOCs that might be of interest.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.