Biological Systems Engineering, Department of



Heidi Diefes-Dux

Document Type


Date of this Version



International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (February 2019) 20(1): 204–220.

doi: 10.19173/irrodl.v20i1.3717


Open access

License: CC-BY 4.0


Improving STEM MOOC evaluation requires an understanding of the current state of STEM MOOC evaluation, as perceived by all stakeholders. To this end, we investigated what kinds of information STEM MOOC instructors currently use to evaluate their courses and what kinds of information they feel would be valuable for that purpose. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 14 faculty members from a variety of fields and research institutions who had taught STEM MOOCs on edX, Coursera, or Udacity. Four major themes emerged related to instructors’ desires: (1) to informally assess learners as an instructor might in a traditional classroom, (2) to assess learners’ attainment of personal learning goals, (3) to obtain in-depth qualitative feedback from learners, and (4) to access more detailed learner analytics regarding the use of course materials. These four themes contribute to a broader sentiment expressed by the instructors that they have access to a wide variety of quantitative data for use in evaluation but are largely missing the qualitative information that plays a significant role in traditional evaluation. Finally, we provide our recommendations for MOOC evaluation criteria, based on these findings.