Effective Adaptive E-Learning Systems According to Learning Style and Knowledge Level

Mohammad T Alshammari, Amjad Qtaish
Journal of Information Technology Education: Research  •  Volume 18  •  2019  •  pp. 529-547

Effective e-learning systems need to incorporate student characteristics such as learning style and knowledge level in order to provide a more personalized and adaptive learning experience. However, there is a need to investigate how and when to provide adaptivity based on student characteristics, and more importantly, to evaluate its value in learning enhancement. This study aims to bridge that gap by examining the effect of different modes of learning material adaptation and their sequences to the learning style and knowledge level of students in e-learning systems.

E-learning systems aim to provide acceptability and interactivity between students, instructors, and learning content anytime and anywhere. However, traditional systems are typically designed for generic students irrespective of individual requirements. Successful e-learning systems usually consider student characteristics such as learning style and knowledge level to provide more personalized and adaptive student-system interaction.

A controlled experiment was conducted in a learning context with 174 subjects to evaluate the learning effectiveness of adaptivity in e-learning systems.

The main contributions of the paper are threefold. First, a novel adaptive approach is proposed based on a specific learning style model and knowledge level. Second, the approach is implemented in an e-learning system to teach computer security, the application domain. Third, a rigorous experimental evaluation of the learning effect of the adaptive approach is offered.

The results indicate that adaptation according to the combination of learning style and knowledge level produces significantly better learning gains, both in the short-term and medium-term, than adaptation according to either trait individually.

Practitioners should consider the combination of learning style and knowledge level when delivering and presenting learning material to their students.

Researchers should consider sound educational models when designing adaptive e-learning systems. Also, rigorous and carful experimental design evaluations should be taken into account.

Universities and e-learning industries can benefit from the proposed adaptive approach and the findings in designing and developing more personalized and adaptive e-learning systems. The incorporation of student characteristics, especially learning style and knowledge level, may be used to enhance learning.

The experiment might be duplicated with a focus on longer-term learning gains by including more subjects and more learning resources. Also, the study might be expanded to application domains other than computer security. Moreover, other variables such as student satisfaction, motivation, and affective state might be explored to further the understanding of the effect of adaptivity on learning gains.

adaptivity, e-learning, learning style, evaluation, computer science education
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