The effects of computer-assisted adaptive instruction and elaborated feedback on learning outcomes. A randomized control trial

K. Iterbeke*, K. De Witte, W. Schelfhout

*Corresponding author for this work

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Using a computer-based learning environment, the present paper studied the effects of adaptive instruction and elaborated feedback on the learning outcomes of secondary school students in a financial education program. We randomly assigned schools to four conditions on a crossing of two factors: the type of instruction (uniform or adaptive) and feedback (verification or elaborated). A total of 1177 students in 32 schools completed the program in ability groups in the classroom. The results showed that the program, on average, enhanced the financial knowledge of students by almost half of a standard deviation. No significant changes in students’ financial behavior were found. Despite the promise of adaptive practices to address the individual needs of students, we observed no additional learning gains associated with adaptive instruction and elaborated feedback. A marginally significant heterogeneous effect for gender was reported, where girls were negatively affected by adaptive instruction. Moreover, despite our sample included more students from a favorable socioeconomic status, the adaptive practices seemed to lower the motivation level. Hence, while no information on the time spent on the instruction and feedback was retrieved, the latter finding suggested that the practices may have been perceived as burdensome by students, thereby rendering them ineffective.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106666
Number of pages19
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

JEL classifications

  • o31 - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
  • i21 - Analysis of Education


  • Adaptive instruction
  • Computer aided instruction
  • Computer assisted
  • Computer assisted learning
  • Computer-assisted learning
  • Computer-based learning environments
  • E-learning
  • Feedback
  • Finance
  • Financial education
  • Financial literacy
  • Learning outcome
  • Randomized control trial
  • Randomized control trials
  • School students
  • Secondary schools
  • Students

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