Follow the successful crowd: raising MOOC completion rates through social comparison at scale

Abstract

Social comparison theory asserts that we establish our social and personal worth by comparing ourselves to others. In in-person learning environments, social comparison offers students critical feedback on how to behave and be successful. By contrast, online learning environments afford fewer social cues to facilitate social comparison. Can increased availability of such cues promote effective self-regulatory behavior and achievement in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)? We developed a personalized feedback system that facilitates social comparison with previously successful learners based on an interactive visualization of multiple behavioral indicators. Across four randomized controlled trials in MOOCs (overall <i>N</i> = 33, 726), we find: (1) the availability of social comparison cues significantly increases completion rates, (2) this type of feedback benefits highly educated learners, and (3) learners' cultural context plays a significant role in their course engagement and achievement.

DOI: 10.1145/3027385.3027411

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Davis2017FollowTS, title={Follow the successful crowd: raising MOOC completion rates through social comparison at scale}, author={Dan Davis and Ioana Jivet and Ren{\'e} F. Kizilcec and Guanliang Chen and Claudia Hauff and Geert-Jan Houben}, booktitle={LAK}, year={2017} }