4.4. Education Demographics

What educational background do my learners have? Evaluating the stages of formal education that your learners have completed can help you understand whether your course is enrolling people with the learning background that you expect.

Learner demographic data is updated every day to include changes in enrollment through 23:59 UTC the previous day.

4.4.1. Gaining Insight into Learner Education

Learners can select a “highest level of education completed” when they register for an account on edx.org or edge.edx.org. Education data for the learners enrolled in your course is provided in a chart, a set of metrics, and a report that you can view or download. Descriptions follow; for detailed information about computations, see Computation Reference. Self-Reported Learner Education Chart

The bars on this chart represent the percentage of enrolled learners who reported completion of a level of education. Moving your cursor over the chart shows the percentage for each level, calculated to one decimal place.

Learner education data is also available for review in tabular format and can be downloaded.

An example of this chart follows.

A bar chart showing a large percentage of middle school, secondary school, and college graduates in the course.

Depending on the goals of the course team, distributions can be interpreted as indicators of the success of enrollment efforts, or indicate that changes may be needed to reach the target demographic.

  • One team wants to involve learners with a wide range of educational backgrounds. The distribution in the chart can be interpreted as confirmation of enrollment by a diverse population.
  • Another team has designed an advanced course. The distribution in the chart alerts the team that people who might need additional resources to succeed are enrolling. The team could review how course prerequisites are stated, or whether marketing efforts are reaching the correct audience.

See the Computation Reference chapter for a detailed description of the educational background categories. Education Band Metrics

Three groups, or bands, are provided to give you another perspective on the distribution of educational levels among your learners. The percentage of learners in each band is shown. Education Breakdown Report

The number of learners reporting completion of each educational level, through the date of the last update, is available for review or download. The report includes a row for each educational level and a column for the Number of Learners. The report also includes a row labeled Unknown for enrolled learners who did not supply educational data.

To download the Education Breakdown report in a comma-separated value file, click Download CSV. The CSV file contains the following columns:

  • count
  • course_id
  • created (the date and time of the computation)
  • date
  • education_level

4.4.2. Analytics in Action: Interpreting Distribution of Educational Levels Not Enough Calculus

As one professor of computer science prepared to launch a new MOOC, he checked the responses that learners were giving for level of education completed. On campus, the course was targeted to first-year college learners, and the About page of the MOOC described it as college level. The professor expected that most learners would be high school graduates at least, and the responses did show that a majority of the enrollees had completed high school or above. Even so, a significant percentage of the enrollees had only finished middle or primary school, and the professor was concerned. How could those learners know enough calculus?

The professor realized that what he really wanted to know was the level of learner preparedness in that specific subject, calculus. The information on learner educational background for this course run, while thought-provoking, was too general to use as the basis for any last-minute decisions about the marketing or design of the course. Just in case, the professor did compile a list of resources for a course update.

For a future course run, this professor could add an assessment early in the first week to test for the expected knowledge. To find the number of learners who select each answer for a problem, including both incorrect and correct answers, you can download the Learner Answer Distribution report.