New Research Insights: What Drives Success in Hands-On Learning Activities?

New Research Insights: What Drives Success in Hands-On Learning Activities?

We are thrilled to share new insights from our latest research at Coursera, focusing on the drivers of success in online, hands-on learning experiences. This collaborative effort by our Teaching & Learning and Data Science teams has shed light on the elements that improve completion rates and learner satisfaction in Graded Lab Assignments for in-browser coding and Guided Projects for side-by-side instruction. Here is a preview of our key findings:

  1. The Power of Industry Relevance

Our research shows that including real-world industry situations or job scenarios in hands-on projects significantly boosts learner motivation. This link to tangible, practical applications encourages learners to complete the learning materials and results in higher satisfaction ratings. We found that this industry connection is particularly beneficial for learners who are actively seeking employment, as it allows them to demonstrate relevant, practical skills to potential employers.

  1. The Impact of Practice Opportunities

Providing learners with meaningful opportunities to practice before graded activities can significantly increase completion rates, particularly for more difficult content. This finding underscores the importance of incorporating practice exercises into course design, allowing learners to consolidate their learning, receive critical feedback, and gain confidence in their newly acquired skills.

  1. The Role of Support Materials

Including support materials such as slide decks and key takeaway documents also contributes to higher completion rates and learner satisfaction. These resources offer learners a quick point of reference, an efficient way to review, and a clear method for reinforcing their understanding of the course concepts. Additionally, providing a solution guide immediately after passing an assessment can further solidify comprehension of key ideas.

Dive Deeper into the Research

These themes represent just a few of the insights uncovered in our two new research reports. We invite you to dive deeper into our findings to gain a better understanding of the factors that drive success in online, hands-on learning experiences. By exploring these drivers, we can continue to improve Coursera Lab and Guided Project designs, leading to more successful outcomes for our learners.

Discover the full reports on Drivers of Success in Coursera Labs and Drivers of Success in Guided Projects to learn more about how to enhance hands-on learning experiences. 

As we continue to improve the online learning experience, we encourage you to actively participate in this process. Start by applying these design recommendations to your own hands-on projects. We would love to hear from you about what’s working best for your learners and in your content. Let’s continue to shape the future of online education together, using these insights to create more engaging, effective, and satisfying learning experiences for all. Join us in this endeavor and let’s make learning better, together.