Effects of social-interactive engagement on the dropout ratio in online learning: insights from MOOC

Wei Wang, Lihuan Guo, Ling He, Yenchun Jim Wu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


In online learning, the high dropout ratio is a serious problem and reflects a poor level of motivation in e-learning programmes. Social-interactive engagement may greatly affect users’ attitudes and choices in many fields; among these, online learning is inevitably impacted by factors such as social connections. To study the impact of social-interactive engagement on the dropout ratio and learning progress, iMOOC was employed as the study object using data from 619 courses and 2,071,147 learners, as well as 19,451,428 learning records. As engagement is a process of collecting experiences, the learner’s experience plays a significant role in reducing the dropout ratio. Social-interactive engagement helps to reduce the dropout ratio; thus, learners should be encouraged to engage in online activities, such as discussions, note sharing, commenting and Q&A, to alleviate the feelings of being disconnected and isolated. Through an empirical study, we also find that the longer a learner's registered time is, the lower the dropout ratio. From the perspective of the courses themselves, the dropout ratios of shorter or more difficult courses are lower than those of longer or less-difficult courses. This paper provides theoretical and practical recommendations for reducing the dropout ratio in online learning and improving learning efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-636
Number of pages16
JournalBehaviour and Information Technology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jun 3


  • MOOC
  • dropout
  • engagement
  • online learning
  • social interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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