Educational Technology Research and Development

, Volume 64, Issue 6, pp 1273–1300 | Cite as

Instructional design, facilitation, and perceived learning outcomes: an exploratory case study of a human trafficking MOOC for attitudinal change

  • Sunnie Lee WatsonEmail author
  • Jamie Loizzo
  • William R. Watson
  • Chad Mueller
  • Jieun Lim
  • Peggy A. Ertmer
Development Article


This exploratory case study describes the design and facilitation of a massive open online course (MOOC) for attitudinal change regarding human trafficking. It examines the course from the learners’, instructor’s, and instructional designer’s perspectives. Two interviews with the instructor and instructional designer were conducted, and data from a sample of learners via an end-of-course survey (n = 54) and follow-up questionnaire (n = 319) were gathered. Learners’ discussion posts and sample assignments were also reviewed. Findings show that the instructor and instructional designer perceived the design and facilitation of the MOOC as highly complex and challenging. Learner feedback was contradictory, possibly due to different expectations and needs within the MOOC. Six instructional design considerations for MOOCs in general and for attitudinal change are discussed, including: (a) MOOCs as a unique platform for attitudinal change, (b) the support needed from platform providers and universities, (c) personal and flexible learning paths, (d) instructional activities for attitudinal dissonance, (e) creating a collaborative community, and (f) MOOC instructor preparation.


Instructional design Attitudinal change MOOC Facilitation 



We would like to thank the Human Trafficking MOOC instructor and instructional designer for their help in providing access to the course and their participation in the study, as well as the students for their participation.


  1. Adair, D., Alman, S. W., Budzick, D., Grisham, L. M., Mancini, M. E., & Thackaberry, A. S. (2014). Many shades of MOOCs. Internet Learning Journal, 3(1), 7.Google Scholar
  2. Alexander, P. A., Murphy, P. K., Buehl, M. M., & Sperl, C. T. (1998). The influence of prior knowledge, beliefs, and interest in learning from persuasive text. In T. Shanahan & F. Rodriguez-Brown (Eds.), Yearbook of the National Reading Conference (pp. 167–181). National Reading Conference, Chicago.Google Scholar
  3. Ascione, F. R. (1992). Enhancing children’s attitudes about the humane treatment of animals: Generalization to human-directed empathy. Anthrozoos, 5(3), 176–191. doi: 10.2752/089279392787011421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bali, M. (2014). MOOC pedagogy: Gleaning good practice from existing MOOCs. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 10(1), 44–56.Google Scholar
  5. Beaven, T., Hauck, M., Comas-Quinn, A., Lewis, T., & de los Arcos, B. (2014). MOOCs: Striking the right balance between facilitation and self-determination. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 10(1), 31–43.Google Scholar
  6. Bednar, A., & Levie, W. H. (1993). Attitude-change principles. In M. Fleming & W. H. Levie (Eds.), Instructional message design (pp. 283–302). Englewood Cliffs: Educational Technology Publications Inc.Google Scholar
  7. Bodenhausen, G. V., & Gawronski, B. (2013). Attitude change. In D. Reisberg (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of cognitive psychology (pp. 957–969). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Breslow, L., Pritchard, D. E., DeBoer, J., Stump, G. S., Ho, A. D., & Seaton, D. T. (2013). Studying learning in the worldwide classroom: Research into edX’s first MOOC. Research & Practice in Assessment, 8, 13–25.Google Scholar
  9. Brouns, F., Mota, J., Morgado, L., Jansen, D., Fano, S., Silva, A., & Teixeira, A. (2014). A networked learning framework for effective MOOC design: The ECO project approach. In A. M. Teixeira & A. Szücs (Eds.), 8th EDEN Research Workshop. Challenges for research into open & distance learning: doing things better: Doing better things (pp. 161-171). Budapest, EDEN, Oxford. Retrieved from
  10. Campbell, J., Gilmore, L., & Cuskelly, M. (2003). Changing student teachers’ attitudes towards disability and inclusion. Journal of Intellectual and Development Disability, 28(4), 369–379. doi: 10.1080/13668250310001616407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Carver, L., & Harrison, L. M. (2013). MOOCs and democratic education. Liberal Education, 99(4), 20. Retrieved from
  12. Chory, R. M., & McCroskey, J. C. (1999). The relationship between teacher management communication style and affective learning. Communication Quarterly, 47(1), 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clarà, M., & Barberà, E. (2013). Learning online: massive open online courses (MOOCs), connectivism, and cultural psychology. Distance Education, 34(1), 129–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Coursera. (2015). Human trafficking. Retrieved from
  15. Creswell, J. W. (2014). A concise introduction to mixed methods research. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
  16. Daruwalla, P., & Darcy, S. (2005). Personal and societal attitudes to disability. Annals of Tourism Research, 32(3), 549–570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dole, J. A., & Sinatra, G. M. (1998). Reconceptalizing change in the cognitive construction of knowledge. Educational Psychologist, 33(2–3), 109–128. doi: 10.1080/00461520.1998.9653294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Enger, K., & Lajimodiere, D. (2011). A multi-cultural transformative approach to learning: Assessing attitude change in doctoral students following an online diversity course. Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, 5(3), 176–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Flynn, J. (2013). MOOCS: Disruptive innovation and the future of higher education. Christian Education Journal, 10(1), 149–162.Google Scholar
  20. Gagne, R., Briggs, L., & Wagner, W. (1992). Principles of instructional design. Belmont: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.Google Scholar
  21. Glaser, B. G. (1965). The constant comparative method of qualitative analysis. Social Problems, 12, 436–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Head, K. (2013). Massive open online adventure. Retrieved from
  23. Hew, K. F., & Cheung, W. S. (2014). Students’ and instructors’ use of massive open online courses (MOOCs): Motivations and challenges. Educational Research Review, 12, 45–58. doi: 10.1016/j.edurev.2014.05.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hynd, C. (2003). Conceptual change in response to persuasive messages. In B. K. Hofer & P. R. Pintrich (Eds.), Personal epistemology: The psychology of beliefs about knowledge and knowing (pp. 291–315). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  25. Kamradt, T. F., & Kamradt, E. J. (1999). Structured design for attitudinal instruction. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional design theories and models: A new paradigm of instructional theory (Vol. 2, pp. 563–590). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  26. Kirschner, A. (2012). A Pioneer in online education tries a MOOC. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 59(6), B21–B22.Google Scholar
  27. Koller, D., Ng, A., Chuong, D., & Zhenghao, C. (2013). Retention and intention in massive open online courses: In depth. EDUCAUSE Review Online, 48(3), 62–63. Retrieved from
  28. Kop, R., Fournier, H., & Mak, J. S. F. (2011). A pedagogy of abundance or a pedagogy to support human beings? Participant support on massive open online courses. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 12(7), 74–93.Google Scholar
  29. Koutropoulos, A., Gallagher, M. S., Abajian, S. C., de Waard, I., Hogue, R. J., Keskin, N. Ö., & Rodriguez, C. O. (2012). Emotive vocabulary in MOOCs: Context & participant retention. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 15(1), 2012.Google Scholar
  30. Ligon, M., Ehlman, K., Moriello, G., & Welleford, E. A. (2009). Oral history in the classroom: Fostering positive attitudes toward older adults and the aging process. Journal of Aging, Humanities and the Arts, 3(1), 59–72. doi: 10.1080/19325610802652051.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Liyanagunawardena, T. R., Adams, A. A., & Williams, S. A. (2013). MOOCs: A systematic study of the published literature 2008–2012. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 14(3), 202–227.Google Scholar
  32. Margaryan, A., Bianco, M., & Littlejohn, A. (2015). Instructional quality of massive open online courses (MOOCs). Computers & Education, 80, 77–83. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2014.08.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mayer, A. B., & Harrison, J. A. (2011). Safe eats: An evaluation of the use of social media for food safety education. Journal of Food Protection, 75(8), 1453–1463. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.11-551.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McGill, I., & Beaty, L. (2001). Action learning: A guide for professional, management & educational development. Palo Alto: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  35. Merrill, M. D. (2013). First principles of instruction: Identifying and designing effective, efficient and engaging instruction. Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  36. Ota, M. (2013). MOOCs: Falling short of what online learning could be. In G. Veletsianos (Ed.), Learner experiences with MOOCs and open online learning (pp. 10–13). Hybrid Pedagogy. Retrieved from
  37. Paranal, R., Washington Thomas, K., & Derrick, C. (2012). Utilizing online training for child sexual abuse prevention: Benefits and limitations. Journal of child sexual abuse, 21(5), 507–520. doi: 10.1080/10538712.2012.697106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Petrocelli, J. V., Tormala, Z. L., & Rucker, D. D. (2007). Unpacking attitude certainty: Attitude clarity and attitude correctness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(1), 30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Petty, R. E., & Briñol, P. (2010). Attitude change (pp. 217–259). Advanced social psychology: The state of the science.Google Scholar
  40. Petty, R. E., & Briñol, P. (2011). The elaboration likelihood model. Handbook of theories of social psychology, 1, 224–245.Google Scholar
  41. Rice, J. (2013). What I learned in MOOC. College Composition and Communication, 64(4), 695–703.Google Scholar
  42. Rodriguez, C. O. (2012). MOOCs and the AI-Stanford like courses: Two successful and distinct course formats for massive open online courses. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning. Retrieved from
  43. Rogers, W. S. (1986). Changing attitudes through distance learning. Open Learning, 1(3), 12–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Ross, J., Sinclair, C., Knox, J., Bayne, S., & Macleod, H. (2014). Teacher experiences and academic identity: The missing components of MOOC pedagogy. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 10(1), 56–68.Google Scholar
  45. Rovai, A. P., Wighting, M. J., Baker, J. D., & Grooms, L. D. (2009). Development of an instrument to measure perceived cognitive, affective, and psychomotor learning in traditional and virtual classroom higher education settings. The Internet and Higher Education, 12(1), 7–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Ruggiero, D. (2015). The effect of a persuasive social impact game on affective learning and attitude. Computers in Human Behavior, 45, 213–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Scott, M. D., & Wheeless, L. R. (1975). Communication apprehension, student attitudes, and levels of satisfaction. Western Journal of Speech Communication, 41, 188–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Simonson, M. R. (1979). Designing instruction for attitudinal outcomes. Journal of instructional development, 2(3), 15–19. doi: 10.1007/BF02984375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Simonson, M. R., & Maushak, N. (1996). Situated learning, instructional technology, and attitude change. In H. McLellan (Ed.), Situated Learning Perspectives (pp. 225–242). Englewood Cliffs: Educational Technology Publications Inc.Google Scholar
  50. Sinatra, G. M., Kardash, C. M., Taasoobshirazi, G., & Lombardi, D. (2012). Promoting attitude change and expressed willingness to take action toward climate change in college students. Instructional Science, 40(1), 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Smith, P. L., & Ragan, T. J. (1999). Instructional design (p. 3). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  52. Smith-D’Arezzo, W. M., & Moore-Thomas, C. (2010). Children’s perceptions of peers with disabilities. TEACHING Exceptional Children Plus, 6(3), 1–16.Google Scholar
  53. Stepien, K. A., & Baernstein, A. (2006). Educating for empathy. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 21(5), 524–530. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00443.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Terras, M. M., & Ramsay, J. (2015). Massive open online courses (MOOCs): Insights and challenges from a psychological perspective. British Journal of Educational Technology, 46(3), 472–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Turner, D. A. (1992). Roleplays: A Sourcebook of Activities for Trainers. London: Kogan Page Limited.Google Scholar
  56. UN General Assembly (2000). Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Supplementing the United Nations convention against transnational organized crime. Accessed Aug 4, 2015, from
  57. Veletsianos, G. (2013). Learner Experiences with MOOCs and Open Online Learning. Hybrid Pedagogy. Retrieved from
  58. Veletsianos, G., & Shepherdson, P. (2016). A systematic analysis and synthesis of the empirical MOOC Literature Published in 2013–2015. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 17(2).Google Scholar
  59. Watson, S. L., Watson, W. R., Richardson, J., & Loizzo, J. (2016a). Instructor’s use of social presence, teaching presence, and attitudinal dissonance: A case study of an attitudinal change MOOC. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 17(3). doi: 10.19173/irrodl.v17i3.2379.
  60. Watson, W. R., Kim, W., & Watson, S. L. (2016b). Learning outcomes of a MOOC designed for attitudinal change: A case study of an Animal Behavior and Welfare MOOC. Computers & Education, 96, 83–93. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2016.01.013.
  61. Wexler, E. (2015). MOOCs are still rising, at least in numbers. Retrieved from
  62. Wheeler, A., Fowler, J., & Hattingh, L. (2013). Using an intervention mapping framework to develop an online mental health continuing education program for pharmacy staff. Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, 33(4), 258–266. doi: 10.1002/chp.21198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wilson, B. J. (2007). Designing media messages about health and nutrition: What strategies are most effective? Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 39(2), S13–S19. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2006.09.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Witt, P. L., & Wheeless, L. R. (2001). An experimental study of teachers’ verbal and nonverbal immediacy and students’ affective and cognitive learning. Communication Education, 50(4), 327–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Zahn, C., Schaeffeler, N., Giel, K. E., Wessel, D., Thiel, A., Zipfel, S., & Hesse, F. W. (2014). Video clips for YouTube: Collaborative video creation as an educational concept for knowledge acquisition and attitude change related to obesity stigmatization. Education and Information Technologies, 19(3), 603–621. doi: 10.1007/s10639-013-9277-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Zheng, S., Rosson, M. B., Shih, P. C., & Carroll, J. M. (2015). Understanding student motivation, behaviors and perceptions in MOOCs. In Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (pp. 1882–1895). ACM.Google Scholar
  67. Zimbardo, P. G., & Leippe, M. R. (1991). The psychology of attitude change and social influence. New York: Mcgraw-Hill Book Company.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sunnie Lee Watson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jamie Loizzo
    • 2
  • William R. Watson
    • 1
  • Chad Mueller
    • 1
  • Jieun Lim
    • 1
  • Peggy A. Ertmer
    • 1
  1. 1.Learning Design and Technology, Department of Curriculum and InstructionPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communication, Department of Agricultural LeadershipUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA

Personalised recommendations