Peer Assessment and Academic Achievement in a Gateway MOOC

Investigator: Mark Warschauer

Co-Principal Investigators: Diane O'Dowd, Adrienne Williams, Thurston Domina, Padhraic Smyth

Funding: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation via the MOOC Research Council

Bio Prep MOOC” is an online course to prepare university students for Introductory Biology. Though open to the public, it was specifically designed for incoming freshman who wish to become Biology majors but have insufficient background, many of whom are low-income, under-represented minorities, or first generation college students. Several hundred of the thousands who enrolled are incoming University of California, Irvine freshmen. The study will draw on a wide range of demographic and institutional data on these UCI students, including their performance in a subsequent Introductory Biology course, as well as course data for the broader set of students in the MOOC, including their access of course materials, quiz scores, participation in peer assessments, and peer assessment scores given and received.

Using this data and drawing upon statistical and machine learning regression techniques, the study will analyze what factors predict student participation in the MOOC, participation in peer assessments, peer scores given and received, and performance on quizzes. We will also examine how students’ performance on assessments and their peer assessment of others predicts their engagement in the MOOC, their quiz scores in the MOOC, and, for UCI students, their subsequent grades in Introductory Biology. The study will shed light on the value of a “gateway” STEM MOOC for facilitating success in subsequent university coursework, as well as the particular contribution of peer assessment activities toward this end.