Unfolding online learning behavioral patterns and their temporal changes of college students in SPOCs

Hercy N.H. Cheng, Zhi Liu, Jianwen Sun, Sanya Liu, Zongkai Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


The emergence of massive open online courses not only changes the ecology of higher education, but also facilitates a blending learning paradigm, also known as small private online courses (SPOCs). In order to understand how college students interact with an SPOC platform, this study collects their online behaviors for a semester and adopts a lag sequential analysis approach to identify significant transitions between interactions with content, peers, and instructors. Regarding content, after entering courses, the students tend to access learning resources. Besides, the transitions between learning resources and personal performance are significantly interconnected to each other. Regarding peers, the interaction with classmates was mainly connected to the access of assignments and performance. Regarding instructors, the interaction with teachers was minor but connected to all other behaviors. In addition, the results also show that students’ online behavioral patterns in SPOCs may change over time. The implications of the findings for SPOCs research are discussed in this paper.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-188
Number of pages13
JournalInteractive Learning Environments
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 17 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • blended learning
  • online-learning behaviors
  • sequential analysis
  • Small private online courses
  • SPOC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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