Teachers as designers of adaptive learning
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The cornerstone premise of this dissertation is that teachers are the primary change agents of an educational system. Another basic premise is that teachers adapt their lessons with or without the use of technology. Based on these premises, the dissertation extends the notion of teachers as designers to teachers as designers of adaptive e-learning. The role of teachers as designers of adaptive e-learning herein is twofold. They served as co-designers of adaptive e-courses aiming to help students overcoming the inherent difficulties of the subject matter. Also, they served as co-designers of a user-friendly digital environment for adaptive e-learning. The design of such an environment is still considered an open research issue. The dissertation discusses how the teacher’s wisdom of practice can support the adaptive e-learning process. My methodology is based on two theories: a domain-specific learning design theory in mathematics and a generic model derived from curriculum studies. A roadmap on designing adaptive e-courses is proposed focusing on the active role of the teacher in the design process. It is based on conceptual mappings between the design-based research steps and the phases of the theories used to orientate the design process. The research helps the reader better understand teachers as designers of adaptive e-Learning. Also, it reports empirical findings derived from five classroom interventions that investigated how the exploitation of a specific adaptive e-learning strategy that was shaped during the research can assist students to overcome the inherent difficulties of the content to be taught. Also, parameters of students’ profile are associated with students’ performance gains. More specifically, for the students that followed e-courses which incorporated the adaptive e-learning strategy, I investigated associations between students’ prior knowledge, students’ age and students’ motivation on the domain with the gain scores. The findings indicate that the students that followed the adaptive e-courses performed significantly better compared to the students that followed the non-adaptive e-courses. No significant differences on the gain scores between the different student age groups or student groups with different motivation levels were identified. On the contrary, in the question “were the adaptive learning interventions more beneficial for students with low pretests scores?”, the answer is positive. Also, I examined the questions: a) how can we design a learning environment for adaptive e- learning in a user-centered way?, b) how can we prioritise the design requirements of a digital environment in a user-centered way? The work described in the previous paragraphs provided insight to question (a). In order to design a user-friendly environment for adaptive e-Learning, a scenario-based requirements engineering approach was adopted. The whole design process was participatory and iterative since it contained three cycles of requirements specification and validation. The final product of the process was a set of user interface mockups along with their accompanying descriptive texts. With respect to eleven key parameters concerning the design of the environment, the final product received very satisfactory evaluation scores among the participants. Also, the ensuing design met at a great extent the expectations of the participants. With respect to question (b), the research introduces the exploitation of the Qualitative Comparative Analysis, as a method to prioritise requirements in the design of a digital environment.