This study aimed to surface, describe and systematise the activities and strategies that adult learners use to self-regulate their learning in the context of a massive open online distributed course (MOOC), in particular Change 2011 MOOC. The term self-regulation here refers to “self-generated thoughts, feelings and actions that are planned and cyclically adapted to the attainment of personal goals” (Ref: Zimmerman, 2005, p. 14). Our interest was specifically in adult learners’ actions – practices and strategies that they use to plan, attain and reflect upon their learning goals.
The SRL-MOOC project examined how learners in Change 2011 MOOC plan, implement and reflect upon their learning goals, analysing similarities and differences in the use of SRL strategies by learners who are positioned on different points on the spectrum of SRL aptitude. In identifying the SRL activities and strategies used by the learners, we were specifically interested in finding out how individuals draw upon available resources, such as other people and artefacts, to plan and attain their learning goals, and what (digital) tools they use to do so.
The research questions that guided the study were:
Data collection includes two consecutive stages. Firstly, self-regulatory aptitude profiles of participants were determined using an SRL self-assessment instrument (questionnaire). Secondly, self-regulatory activities and strategies or participants were identified through in-depth, semi-structured interviews. To allow systematic surfacing of strategies, interviews were guided by a protocol structured into sets of questions related to planning, implementation and reflection practices. During the interviews, participants were encouraged to use digital artefacts from the Change MOOC (blogposts, tweets, etc) to demonstrate their learning goal planning and attainment strategies.
The survey and interview instruments are freely available from: http://figshare.com/authors/Colin_Milligan/100462 and may be used/amended with attribution. We have written up many of the project findings as blog posts on Colin Milligan's workblog: http://worklearn.wordpress.com/ One paper from this project has been written and accepted for publication in JOLT. Three further papers are planned, A conference presentation (based on the goal-setting behabviour which we observed) is planned for August 2013. See below: