In Spring 2016, faculty, support staff and administrators at Oregon State University met to candidly share their experiences with adaptive learning technology.1 I shared two different videos from the event at EdSurge in this article and highlighted comments on vendors over-promising here at e-Literate. This time I’d like to highlight part of a panel discussion where a faculty member relates her experiences – what worked and what didn’t work – when using adaptive learning tools.
Kathryn Becker-Blease has taught Intro to Psychology, a large lower-division lecture course, using both traditional quizzing and with adaptive quizzing with the help of Macmillan’s LearningCurve. In this part of the panel discussion Susana Rivera-Mills, Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies, asks Becker-Blease about her experiences based on research and teaching.
It is worth noting the specific application in question – the academic discipline, course format and size, tool usage – as adaptive learning can mean different things in different contexts.
With that in mind, however, I noted in the panel discussion in response that the challenge of working with lower-performing students based on their study habits and support needs reminded me of the experience at Essex County College that we shared last year. In that case, a remedial math course was redesigned using adaptive learning tools – McGraw-Hill’s ALEKS – but with an important focus on self-regulated learning. Yes, students worked in the adaptive learning platform, but they also had class time devoted to supporting them with their study and work habits. Learning how to learn, which is very important for students that do not have a history of academic success.
Most academic initiatives require holistic solutions, particularly with the complex task of reducing achievement gaps.
By Phil Hill
- Disclosure: Our e-Literate TV series of video case studies and explainer videos is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. [↩]