Date of Award

Fall 1-14-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Richard Blissett, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Katie Smith, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Deborah Keyek-Franssen, Ph.D.


Massive Open Online Courses, MOOCs, MOOC participation, MOOC experiences, Gender Stereotypes, Chilly Climate, Stereotype Threat, Sociotransformative Constructivism, Gender Studies, Women Studies


Through three distinct investigations, this dissertation provides a unique approach to investigating the engagement of women in MOOCs. According to previous MOOC research, not only 10% of learners who enroll in the course complete it, but the majority of these students appear to be men (Christensen et al., 2013). Women's participation in MOOCs is generally low, but it varies greatly depending on whether the course is STEM or non-STEM (i.e., Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics courses—STEM). The first study examines gender participation patterns in STEM and non-STEM MOOCs using data from existing MOOC platforms. The second research study looked at MOOC participants' satisfaction with their MOOC experiences as well as their responses to any “chilly climate” or negative experiences. The last study looked into MOOC instructors' perceptions of gender differences, as well as their current and ideal attitudes and procedures for serving their students' needs. The findings of this dissertation reveal that both men and women engage in and navigate MOOCs differently, just as they do in traditional face-to-face courses. This dissertation provides guidance to the MOOC community about what to expect in terms of participation and how to account for necessary changes in MOOC design. The results from the dissertation can be used to assist MOOC administrators and designers in making a conscious effort to build MOOC environments and curriculums that take gender differences into account.