Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP) 43rd Conference
March 15-17, 2018
Title: The Effects of MOOC Certificates on Hireability: An Experiment
Authors: Mariela Rivas, Rachel Baker
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are often marketed as a way for people to retool their careers and strengthen specific, marketable skills. In addition to single MOOCs, many providers offer a sequence of related courses that result in a credential or “nano degree;” the advertising for these programs often focuses on the expected monetary rewards and career gains. However, the value of individual MOOCs and MOOC credentials in the labor market is largely untested. This paper presents results from a pilot study that investigates if candidates with MOOC credentials are more likely than candidates without such credentials to be hired for freelance web development work. We also test whether the value of a MOOC credential is more important for employees with less experience. In the pilot study, we recruited participants via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, a site that allows completion of tasks for monetary reward. Participants were asked to choose profiles that varied by MOOC credential and years of experience. Results from a pilot study indicate that MOOC certificates appear to be helpful for applicants with one year of experience but harmful for applicants with five years of experience. We also present new data that builds on the pilot by examining if the findings hold across subgroups of participants (such as those with knowledge of MOOCs as compared to those without) and by testing the effect of MOOCs for applicants with varying years of prior experience (0, 1, 3 and 5).
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