Adaptive Learning Technology Relationship with Student Learning Outcomes

Garry White
Journal of Information Technology Education: Research  •  Volume 19  •  2020  •  pp. 113-130

The purpose of this study is to determine the effectiveness of an Adaptive Learning Technology (ALT), as compared to traditional teaching methods, in an undergraduate management information course. The effectiveness is based on Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Competencies

Previous studies have investigated factors involved with ALT. From one study, students enjoyed how to use new technology and believed it improves learning. However, the literature lacks studies showing gains in understanding and remembering as defined by Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Competencies.

Correlations between ALT usage and test/course grades were performed. McGraw-Hill’s Connect LearnSmart® was used as the ALT. The ALT was optional for extra credit in the class. Correlations were performed between LearnSmart® scores and tests. Then, since usage was bimodal (students who took the initiative to fully complete LearnSmart® and those who did not do LearnSmart®), an independent-samples t-test was performed between these two distinct groups.
Sampling was from an Information Technology course at a major university. The data collection methods composed of recording LearnSmart® scores and test scores.

This study aims to provide empirical evidence of ALT outcomes in learning, to show if ALT enhance learning over traditional teaching methods. If not, the value of using ALT is provided.

Results showed no relationships between ALT usage and test/course grades. No differences between the two groups (those who completed ALT and those that did not do the ALT) were found with each of the four tests and final course grades. Since the ALT group did the LearnSmart® as an option, the tool appears to be a preference for learning style and provides user satisfaction. This is consistent with prior studies.

Practitioners should use ALT for convenience, preferences, and students’ satisfaction. The use of both traditional teaching methods and newer technology teaching methods might be most effective because they provide flexibility for the best method that satisfies the student. Editors and developers of publishers need to consider student preferences in learning.

Opinions and perceptions by subjects may be misleading. In future research, empirical evidence needs to be provided to validate opinions and perceptions. Research needs to focus more on students’ characteristics such as learning style, learning preferences, and initiative.

This research suggests that an ALT is efficient for the learning process rather than effective for outcomes and enhanced learning. Students can learn just as well without an ALT. Decisions to use an ALT should be based on convenience and student preferences.

In this study, students had the option to do an ALT. They showed initiative. For future research, initiative needs to be removed. Random assignments to do an ALT or not need to be studied to further confirm the findings of this study. Also, a future study needs to use the same subject’s outcomes for both an ALT and traditional teaching methods.

adaptive learning technology, Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Competencies, learning tools, LearnSmart®, SmartBook®, student grade outcomes
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