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The Remediation of Knowledge Gaps with Adaptive Learning

This article discusses the significance and an important application of Adaptive Learning(remediation of knowledge gaps among students).


Adaptive Learning is a data-driven technology that continually utilizes student data to adapt learning pathways, changing and improving consistently over time to suit every student individually. With the help of complicated algorithms, knowledge gaps are constantly identified and course content is automatically adapted. A lot of time can be saved with this because there is no need to sift through the content that is already known.

In the last few years, the fascination over adaptive learning has evolved significantly. Today, about 96 percent of CIOs of higher education believe that this technology has the potential to enhance learning outcomes for students. In both 2015 and 2016, adaptive learning was ranked as the number 1 strategic technology to impact education.

Adaptive learning concept has gone from a model that is defined poorly in postsecondary education to becoming a major pillar of learning and teaching technology. Likewise, adaptive learning solutions’ expanding uses have helped bring about this transformation. An ideal way to manifest this shift is by observing how use cases of adaptive learning have moved to credit-bearing environments from non-credit-bearing environments.

Adaptive learning solutions were mainly utilized in non-credit-bearing environments, back in 2012. This utilization incorporated separate remedial courses or development education. Nowadays, adaptive learning applications have also expanded to credit-bearing uses. This expansion could include utilizing it for simulations, course projects, study aids, homework tools, and even to support the complete delivery of a course. This expansion is extremely important as in recent years, the application of the solutions of adaptive learning has been expanding to a wider and in-depth usage within institutions, and the results are worth noting.

An Interesting Application of Adaptive Learning – The Remediation of Knowledge Gaps among Students

Advanced learners come from various walks of life with different experiences and backgrounds. Some may have little or no previous study, and others may have one or more degrees. If we observe students opting for a typical post-graduate program like MBA(Master of Business Administration), not all of them will have a background in business. Many may come from programs like humanities, sciences or engineering. At universities such as McMaster in Canada, for instance, 70 percent of MBA students come from academic backgrounds other than business.

The adaptive learning solutions’ early implementations were at course-level, but their real power laid in covering a broad range of courses. So, institutions have expanded their utilization of adaptive learning beyond just a single course to bigger offerings(like pre-matriculation programs) that encompass a range of topics.

One excellent example of an institution that came up with an in-depth application of adaptive learning solution for its Doctor of Pharmacy program by widening its usage beyond just a single course is the University of Texas at Austin(UT). The Doctor of Pharmacy program at UT is recognized as one of the most popular programs of pharmacy education in the US and incorporates an internship that provides 40 to 50 hours per week of on-site experience.

UT realized that students who chose its program came from different experiences and academic backgrounds. So, to level out the playing field for all these students so that they were beginning at a similar level of skills and knowledge, UT decided to pilot an adaptive learning program. UT’s adaptive pre-matriculation program evaluated the knowledge gaps of students in 4 key areas: math, information literacy, biology, and chemistry.

The Result

Its adaptive learning program produced statistically substantial learning gains, which helped in bringing together all the new students to a similar level in preparation for the Doctor of Pharmacy program. Check out this video on the PAL Program to know exactly how it went.

Other Applications of Adaptive Learning – 3 Smart Apps that are Built with Adaptive Learning Mechanics

Leo’s Pad

This free app is for pre-schoolers. It offers a series of interactively animated episodes featuring the adventures of historical figures like Marie Curie and Leonardo da Vinci. It includes early-learning curriculum that mainly focuses on color naming, memory, taking turns and following instructions. With the app-with-an-app “Parents Pad,” parents can see what their kids are doing and what are they are learning in addition to tips for helping the process of learning.


One of the ideal ways to learn is via flash card use. Knowji provides a suite of interactive, digital flash card applications for vocabulary learning. Knowji utilizes the spaced repetition principle, and adaptive learning prevails as the application tracks words that are not known to the user and indicates the correct time for practicing them. With this app, users can record their voices and compare them with the “voice” of the app to see if they are pronouncing the words correctly, and by viewing learned words, they can track progress.

Sensei-Learn Spanish

This app features about 500 Spanish words with three kinds of exercises in levels from easy to difficult to appeal to a broader range of abilities. The algorithm of this app depends on an adaptive cognitive model which alters the order of words presented in a lesson. Developers say that this allows users to learn more words in the same amount of time.

Written By

Savaram Ravindra was born and raised in Hyderabad, popularly known as the ‘City of Pearls’. He is presently working as a Content Contributor at and He is also an author at His previous professional experience includes Programmer Analyst at Cognizant Technology Solutions. He holds a Masters degree in Nanotechnology from VIT University. He can be contacted at [email protected]. Connect with him also on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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