Investigating Instructor Intervention in MOOC Discussion Forums


Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) scale up their class size by eliminating synchronous teaching and the need for students and instructors to be co-located. Yet, the very characteristics that enable scalability of MOOCs also bring significant challenge to its teach. In particular, high student-to-instructor ratio in MOOCs restricts instructors’ ability to facilitate student learning by intervening in discussions forums, as they do in face-to-face classrooms — the lack of interaction and feelings of isolation have been attributed as reasons for why enrolled students drop from MOOCs.

Using a large sample of forum data culled from Coursera MOOCs we design predictive models to identify discussion threads for the instructor to intervene. Such machine learning models may allow building of dashboards to automatically prompt instructors on when and how to intervene in discussion forums. In the longer term, it may be possible to automate these interventions relieving instructors of this effort. Such automated approaches are essential for allowing good pedagogical practices to scale in the context of MOOC discussion forums.

MOOC Wikification (broken link) is a spinoff from this project with similar objectives.



Chandrasekaran, Muthu Kumar; Kan, Min-Yen

Countering Position Bias in Instructor Interventions in MOOC Discussion Forums Workshop

Proceedings of the 5th Workshop on Natural Language Processing Techniques for Educational Applications, ACL, Melbourne, Australia, 2018.

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Ragupathi, Kiruthika; Chandrasekaran, Muthu Kumar; Kan, Min-Yen; Tan, Bernard C. Y.

Investigating student learning in online discussion forums through a transactivity framework Presentation


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Chandrasekaran, Muthu Kumar; Epp, Carrie Demmans; Kan, Min-Yen; Litman, Diane

Using Discourse Signals for Robust Instructor Intervention Prediction Conference

Proceedings of the Thirty-First AAAI conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-17), 2017.

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Chandrasekaran, Muthu Kumar; Kan, Min-Yen; Tan, Bernard C. Y.; Ragupathi, Kiruthika

Learning instructor intervention from MOOC forums: Early Results and Issues Conference


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Chandrasekaran, Muthu Kumar; Ragupathi, Kiruthika; Tan, Bernard C. Y.; Kan, Min-Yen

Towards feasible instructor intervention in MOOC discussion forums Conference

Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Systems (2015), 2015.

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Meeting Minutes

  • 21 Sep 2018 –