May 20, 2022

Research Article: “How Do Online Learners Study? The Psychometrics of Students’ Clicking Patterns in Online Courses”

The following article was recently published by PLOS One.


How Do Online Learners Study? The Psychometrics of Students’ Clicking Patterns in Online Courses


Mohini Tellakat
University of Texas at Austin

Ryan L. Boyd
University of Texas at Austin

James W. Pennebaker
University of Texas at Austin


PLoS ONE 14(3): e0213863


College students’ study strategies were explored by tracking the ways they navigated the websites of two large (Ns of 1384 and 671) online introductory psychology courses. Students’ study patterns were measured analyzing the ways they clicked outside of the regularly scheduled class on study materials within the online Learning Management System. Three main effects emerged: studying course content materials (as opposed to course logistics materials) outside of class and higher grades are consistently correlated; studying at any time except in the late night/early morning hours was strongly correlated with grades; students with higher Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores made higher grades but accessed course materials at lower rates that those with lower SATs. Multiple regressions predicting grades using just SATs and click rates accounted for almost 43 and 36 percent of the grade variance for the Fall and Spring classes respectively. Implications for using click patterns to understand and shape student learning are discussed.

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Gary Price ( 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, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.