Building Bridges Towards Self-regulation: The Goal-Setting Behaviour of Adult Language Learners in MOOCs

Conde Gafaro, Barbara (2022). Building Bridges Towards Self-regulation: The Goal-Setting Behaviour of Adult Language Learners in MOOCs. PhD thesis The Open University.



Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offer educational opportunities to a wide range of learners. Language learners can use these courses to develop knowledge and practise language skills needed daily or in different areas of specialisation. However, learners may not benefit from this learning opportunity if they do not know how to self-regulate their learning. Self-regulated learners employ various processes to master their learning and accomplish their goals. The literature shows that goal setting is a helpful self-regulatory process that contributes to a successful MOOC learning experience. Goal setting is the driving force behind any educational intention and can provide the basis for a strategic plan formulated by learners at the start of a learning task.

Moreover, this self-regulatory process holds the key to activating, monitoring, and assessing an effective learning process. Nonetheless, goal-setting support in these online courses is scarce. Research on goal setting in MOOCs has not previously investigated the personal learning goals that learners bring to these non-formal learning environments. This represents a twofold omission in the field of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL), in which MOOCs are themselves an under-researched area. Although CALL practitioners have gradually integrated MOOCs into the L2 classroom, little research has examined adult learners' goals during their MOOC-based learning.

To address this gap in the literature, this research uncovers the goal-setting behaviour of 19 adult learners who studied MOOCs for four weeks as part of their classroom-based language courses. To achieve this aim, the researcher gathered and analysed 38 semi-structured interviews, 71 weekly monitoring surveys, 19 open-ended questionnaires and 19 MOOC screenshots. The findings of this study advance the field of CALL by providing a comprehensive picture of the different aspects of language, traditional and non-traditional goals, and MOOC elements involved when L2 adult learners self-regulate their learning online.

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