Online Learner Study

Online Learner Engagement Survey

This research aims to find out more about online students and their experiences studying at Curtin, both good and bad. Students currently studying online in MOOCs, UniReady, Curtin Online units, or Open University Australia units offered at Curtin, will be invited to take the survey.

We want to find out why you’re studying online, what you think and feel about your online studies, what kinds of experiences keep you motivated, and what makes it difficult to study online.

Previous research has shown that it is difficult to learn if you are not motivated to learn or do not have long term goals defined (Duckworth et. al, 2007). It has also been shown that institutional support (Devlin 2011) is an important factor for student success. We want to find out whether that previous research applies to online students as well.

We will analyse the survey data to find out what common issues online students face, depending on what they are studying, age, gender, previous education, background and attitudes. Then we’ll recommend changes to improve online units and courses at Curtin University.

Go in the draw to win an iPad Mini!
To thank you for helping us with our research, we have a prize draw that is open to students who complete the survey. The prize is an iPad Mini WI-FI 16GB. You can find the Terms and Conditions of the prize draw here. (196Kb)

How long will the survey take?
We’ve kept the survey short and sweet, but it will depend on how much you choose to share with us. It will probably take about 5-10 minutes of clicking buttons, and maybe a couple more minutes for any of the optional free-answer questions where you get a chance to tell us about your personal experiences with online study.

How will my answers be used?
Approximately 2,000 students will participate in this project. We will use the data gathered to write academic journal articles and reports and possibly a book, and also to develop some new guidelines and resources designed to make online courses better and provide more support for online students.

Answering “Yes” to the first question in the survey means you consent to this use of the information you give us. Taking part in the survey is voluntary and you do not have to participate if you do not wish to do so. If you change your mind, you can withdraw from the survey at any time, and this will have no impact on any units or courses you are taking at Curtin.

We ask for your student number (if you have one) so that we can gather some basic background information about your time at Curtin. You can still take the survey without giving a student number.

The information we gather will remain confidential. If we quote one of your answers, we’ll make sure that any identifying information is removed first. We will anonymise all information obtained in connection with this project so that our findings cannot be used to identify you. Your details will never be disclosed without your permission; your student number and email address will remain confidential.

If you tell us you’re willing to take part in a follow-up interview, we may contact you. That’s the only way we’ll use your contact information unless you win the iPad Mini prize draw, and then we’ll get in touch with the good news.

Please feel free to ask questions about the survey by sending an email to

Click here to access the survey

Please contact Dr Cathy Cupitt by email at if you have any issues accessing the online survey.

Who are the researchers?

Chief Investigator
Professor Sue Trinidad
National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education
John Curtin Institute of Public Policy
Curtin University
Phone: +61 8 9266 1573

Project Manager
Dr Cathy Cupitt
National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education
John Curtin Institute of Public Policy
Curtin University
Phone: +61 8 9266 1743

Also, Dr David Gibson and Lisa Goldacre at Curtin University and Dr Sara de Freitas at Murdoch University.

Ethics approval

This study has been approved by the Curtin University Human Research Ethics Committee (Approval Number HR 47/2014). The Committee comprises members of the public, academics, lawyers, doctors and pastoral carers. If needed, verification of approval can be obtained either by writing to the Curtin University Human Research Ethics Committee, c/- Office of Research and Development, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth WA 6845, by telephoning +61 8 9266 2784, or by emailing

If you have any complaints or concerns about the way in which the study is being conducted please contact:

Human Research Ethics Committee
C/- Office of Research and Development
Curtin University
GPO Box U1987
Perth WA 6845
Phone: +61 8 9266 2784