Age of Learning Teams Publish Chapters in Adaptive Instructional Systems. Design and Evaluation, Present at HCI International 2021 Conference

July 22, 2021

In the U.S., four out of five teachers report a significant range in student math abilities in their classroom, and teachers also report that this variability in math skills impacts the effectiveness of their teaching. Teachers’ reporting of the significant range in student math abilities is consistent with what leading education innovation researcher Digital Promise found in their paper, “Learner Variability is The Rule, Not the Exception.” Differentiating instruction to account for learner variability is challenging for even the most expert teachers.

Age of Learning has long recognized that learner variability in the classroom and the demands of differentiating instruction may be one of the biggest obstacles to ensuring that every child has the opportunity to succeed. However, recent advancements in technology, data science, and adaptive instructional systems (AISs) offer an opportunity to provide a solution for learner variability at scale. Age of Learning has spent years developing and iterating a mastery-based Personalized Mastery Learning Ecosystem (PMLE)—the platform for our adaptive, game-based My Math Academy and My Reading Academy—to empower teachers to differentiate instruction through real time diagnostics and a robust collection of resource materials.

We have taken a Learning Engineering approach to developing these innovative products. Our Learning Engineering team at Age of Learning is interdisciplinary—consisting of curriculum experts, learning scientists, data scientists, design researchers, efficacy researchers, and game developers—and their work applied learning sciences research to inform pedagogy and instructional design, as well as in applications of user-centered research methodologies, evidence-centered design, and learning analytics to drive learning outcomes.

Members of two Age of Learning teams developing, testing, and iterating on the development of these products have recently published chapters in the book Adaptive Instructional Systems. Design and Evaluation, which will be presented at the upcoming HCI International 2021, the International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction.

To share their insights, we are highlighting these chapters and presentations and encourage everyone to read and attend if possible.


Personalized Mastery Learning Ecosystems: Using Bloom’s Four Objects of Change to Drive Learning in Adaptive Instructional Systems

Anastasia Betts, Khanh-Phuong Thai, Sunil Gunderia

Paper Presentation: July 28, 2021, 8:00–10:00 a.m. (EDT)

Adaptive instructional systems (AISs) hold tremendous promise for addressing learner variability at scale. Many AISs are grounded in Benjamin Bloom’s (1971) Mastery Learning approach, which delivers differentiated instruction, appropriate scaffolding, and feedback to ensure each child masters each concept or skill before moving on. (Bloom’s 1984) framework for learning went beyond the immediate interactions of learners and the AIS. He described “four objects of the change process” that must be addressed to significantly improve student learning: the learner, the materials, the teacher, and the learner’s environment, where parents/caretakers are a critical component, especially for young children. This paper describes a learning engineering approach to craft a Personalized Mastery-Based Learning Ecosystem (PMLE) that uses all people, processes, data, and networked connections to create new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented educational opportunities for children and their families. This ecosystem treats all individuals within the system as learners (child, parent, teacher, etc.) whose knowledge and expertise can be enhanced to benefit the child’s learning. The PMLE enables parents and teachers to become empowered “agents” of change by providing them with knowledge, tools, and evidence-based strategies to support meaningful and effective interactions with the child, all driven by real-time data about the readiness of the child. This paper presents a vision of how AISs can move beyond working solely with the child to become more robust ecosystems that empower all agents of change to optimize personalization and ensure long-term success of all children at scale.

Conference Paper:


The Role of Participatory Codesign in a Learning Engineering Framework to Support Classroom Implementation of an Adaptive Instructional System

Kelly J. Sheehan, Meagan K. Rothschild, Sarah Buchan

Paper Presentation: July 29, 2021, 8:00–10:00 a.m. (EDT)

This paper examines the role of participatory codesign in the creation of parent, teacher, and administrator dashboards for a game-based adaptive instructional system designed to teach math to young children. Taking a learning engineering approach, our team of researchers, curriculum specialists, and UX designers engaged in an iterative design process with six primary school teachers and 4 school administrators with the goal of understanding the appropriateness and effectiveness of the dashboards for different role types. Using ongoing interviews and a participatory codesign workshop, we engaged with teachers and administrators over several months and worked with them to understand how the dashboards could serve and be used by role types at varying levels (parent, teacher, principal, administrator, superintendent). We found that the effectiveness and appropriateness of the dashboard stemmed from its ability to communicate information across systems, like allowing teachers to communicate with parents on how to help their child, allowing principals to check-in on teachers on student progress, and allowing superintendents to review school-wide learning goals with principals. In sum, the participatory codesign process was highly successful, leading to a rich understanding of how the dashboards can be better designed to connect information across systems to better serve different role types.

Conference Paper:

To learn how My Math Academy blends the science of how children learn with the excitement that makes them love learning, district administrators can connect with our School Solutions team for a guided program demonstration and review our program results.  Visit us here to learn more.