You are here:

A systematic review of research methods and topics of the empirical MOOC literature (2014–2016)

, , Instructional Systems Technology, United States ; , Curriculum and Instruction, United States

Internet and Higher Education Volume 37, Number 1, ISSN 1096-7516 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


This study explores the research paradigms and topics of MOOCs to gain a deeper understanding of the MOOC phenomenon by reviewing 146 empirical studies of MOOCs published from October 2014 to November 2016. The results show that: (a) most studies used quantitative research methods followed by mixed research methods and qualitative research methods, (b) the most frequently adopted data collection method was survey, followed by platform database, interviews, and discussion forum, (c) more than half of the collected studies used at least two data collection methods such as survey and interview, (d) the majority of researchers used descriptive statistics to analyze data, followed by inferential statistics and content analysis, and (e) the research focus was mainly on students, followed by design-focused, context and impact-focused, and instructor-focused. Among the foci of that research, learner retention and motivation were the most mentioned, followed by learner experience and satisfaction, assessment, and instructional design.


Zhu, M., Sari, A. & Lee, M.M. (2018). A systematic review of research methods and topics of the empirical MOOC literature (2014–2016). Internet and Higher Education, 37(1), 31-39. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved October 19, 2019 from .

This record was imported from Internet and Higher Education on January 29, 2019. Internet and Higher Education is a publication of Elsevier.

Full text is availabe on Science Direct: