Study Finds Peer-to-Peer Writing Helps Students Learn in MOOCs
Students learn better in massive online courses when they write to, and for, each other – even in subjects not typically associated with writing, like chemistry. This finding comes from a new research study published in the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning by three Duke University faculty looking at peer-to-peer writing […]
The research was conducted by Denise Comer, director of Duke’s First-Year Writing Program; Charlotte Clark, director of undergraduate programs at the Nicholas School of the Environment; and chemistry professor Dorian Canelas. The study was funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Both Comer and Canelas have taught MOOCs on the Coursera platform, and the study aimed to evaluate how peer-to peer interactions in writing through discussion forums and through peer assessment impact student learning across disciplines.
“We were interested to research the pedagogical impact of adapting a high-impact learning practice such as writing into the MOOC platform,” said Comer. “One of our significant findings is that, across disciplines, peer-to-peer writing in MOOCs enhances learning outcomes.”
Analysis of discussion forums and assignment feedback in the courses indicated that peer-to-peer writing links to course learning objectives and generally contributes positively to the learning environment. The research also highlights the importance of writing as a significant pedagogical practice that the researchers believe should be encouraged more in MOOCs.