I have carried out several in depth interviews with MOOC students (over several different studies including professional and non-professional learners) and it was interesting to ask them what their goals were at the beginning and how these changed.
Many people I spoke to found it quite difficult to articulate their goals without prompting. The questions helped them to reflect on their main goals and did reveal a wide range of motivations and intentions.
To some extent the ease of signing up for a “free” online course may mean that some learners join with unclear goals – which may impact on their commitment to finish. I wonder what others think about this. (NB Personally I don’t think it matters if people finish/complete a MOOC if they learn what they wanted to)