Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #790

Do Planning Prompts Increase Educational Success? Evidence from Randomized Controlled Trials in MOOCs

by Mark A. Andor, Katja M. Fels, Jan Renz and Sylvi Rzepka

RUB, RWI, 12/2018, 26 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-918-6 DOI: 10.4419/86788918



Massive Open Online Courses are a promising educational innovation. Yet, they suffer
from high drop-out rates. As a remedy, we propose a planning prompt and test its
effect on course completion and further outcomes such as course engagement and
satisfaction in four large-scale randomized controlled trials. The results reveal an
overall null effect on the completion rate, ruling out effect sizes beyond the [-7%, 3%]
interval. However, this overall effect masks heterogeneity across and within courses: In
one course the planning prompt increases course completion by 19%, highlighting the
importance of replications in slightly different contexts. Using random causal forests,
we also reveal tendencies for differential effects by subgroups. Better targeting could
hence improve the effectiveness of planning prompts in online learning.

JEL-Classification: I21, I29, C93

Keywords: Massive open online courses; planning prompt; behavioral economics; natural field experiment