Help Privacy Policy Disclaimer
  Advanced SearchBrowse





Learning With People Like Me: The Role of Age-Similar Peers on Online Business Course Engagement


Rosendahl Huber,  Laura
MPI for Innovation and Competition, Max Planck Society;

External Resource
No external resources are shared
Fulltext (public)
There are no public fulltexts stored in PuRe
Supplementary Material (public)
There is no public supplementary material available

Rosendahl Huber, L., Lane, J. N., & Lakhani, K. R. (2020). Learning With People Like Me: The Role of Age-Similar Peers on Online Business Course Engagement. Harvard Business School Working Paper, 21-072.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-DEC5-1
Over the past decade, online learning has witnessed tremendous growth in popularity due to its ability to reach diverse participants in a scalable manner. However, one primary area of concern is the low course completion rates in digital platform-based learning, compared to face-to-face counterparts. Given that most education tends to be organized by age, we ask: how does the degree of age-similarity among cohort peers affect course engagement and persistence? Using a unique dataset of 17,000 working professionals enrolled in business skills training courses offered by an elite U.S. business school over a three year period, we show that age similarity has a positive effect on individual course completion: an individual’s likelihood of course completion increases by 3% for every 10 same-age cohort peers. Given that the average cohort size is 220 people, this suggests that a small threshold of same-age peers can have a substantial impact on course engagement and persistence. To examine mechanisms, we turn to participants’ motivations for taking the course, and find that similar-age peers are more likely to affiliate with one another because they share a common motivation for taking the course. Our results suggest that there is an implicit trade-off between social engagement and diversity of perspectives in online courses, and that the organization and structure of online courses ought to balance both objectives.