Adaptive E-Learning

Valerie Shute, Brendon Towle
2003 Educational Psychologist  
It has long been known that differences among individuals have an effect on learning. Dick Snow's research on aptitude-treatment interactions (ATIs) was designed to investigate and quantify these effects, and more recent research in this vein has clearly established that these effects can be quantified and predicted. Technology has now reached a point where we have the opportunity to capitalize on these effects to the benefit of learners. In this article, we review some of the demonstrated
more » ... ts of ATIs, describe how ATI research naturally leads to adaptive e-learning, and describe one way in which an adaptive e-learning system might be implemented to take advantage of these effects. It is usually and rightly esteemed an excellent thing in a teacher that he should be careful to mark diversity of gifts in those whose education he has undertaken, and to know in what direction nature inclines each one most. For in this respect there is an unbelievable variety, and types of mind are not less numerous than types of body. (Quintilian, ca. 90 A.D.) Acknowledging the important relation between individual differences and education has a very long history. However, simply acknowledging versus systematically testing this relation are two quite different things. Together with Lee Cronbach, Dick Snow formalized this interaction, consequently revolutionizing the thinking and researching of human abilities in the 1970s. Snow's primary research agenda focused on how individual differences in aptitudes played out in different educational settings. This received worldwide attention in the classic book on aptitude-treatment interactions (ATIs; Cronbach & Snow, 1977) . Snow was steadfast in his belief that the psychology of human differences is fundamental to education. He also acknowledged that designers of policy and practice often ignore the lessons of differential psychology by trying to impose a "one-size-fits-all" solution even though individuals are different. His work sought to change that fact-to promote edu-cational improvement for all. This quest, across the years, has been joined by scores of supporters who have been motivated by him, either directly-as students and colleagues-or indirectly-through his writings. The first author of this article was fortunate to have had both direct and indirect Snow influences for almost 2 decades. And his influence continues, currently manifest in a research and development stream called adaptive e-learning. As e-learning matures as an industry and a research stream, the focus is shifting from developing infrastructures and delivering information online to improving learning and performance. The challenge of improving learning and performance largely depends on correctly identifying char
doi:10.1207/s15326985ep3802_5 fatcat:itlcqtisqve3bk4vkqwpgqepgq