Emotive Vocabulary in MOOCs: Context & Participant Retention

Michael Gallagher, Apostolos Koutropoulos, Inge de Waard, Osvaldo Rodriguez, Sean Abajian, Rebecca Hogue, Nilgun Keskin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) have been growing in popularity with educational researchers, instructors, and learners in online environments. Online discussions are as important in MOOCs as in other online courses. Online discussions that occur in MOOCs are influenced by additional factors resulting from their volatile and voluntary participation structure. This article aims to examine discussions that took place in MobiMOOC in the spring of 2011, a MOOC structured around mobile learning. This line of inquiry focused on language from the discussions that contained emotive vocabulary in the MobiMOOC discussion forums. Emotive vocabulary is words or phrases that are implicitly emotional (happy, sad, frustrated) or relate to emotional contexts (I wasn’t able to…). This emotive vocabulary, when present, was examined to determine whether it could serve as a mechanism for predicting future and continued participation in the MOOC. In this research, narrative inquiry approach was used in order to shine a light on the possible predictive qualities of emotive text in both participants who withdrew from the course as well as moderately or moderately active participants. The results indicated that emotive vocabulary usage did not significantly predict or impact participation retention in MobiMOOC.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • MOOC
  • online learning
  • participation
  • emotional language
  • affective factors
  • narrative inquiry


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