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Publication Title

Educational Technology Research and Development






This systematic review of research on adaptive learning used a strategic search process to synthesize research on adaptive learning based on publication trends, instructional context, research methodology components, research focus, adaptive strategies, and technologies. A total of 61 articles on adaptive learning were analyzed to describe the current state of research and identify gaps in the literature. Descriptive characteristics were recorded, including publication patterns, instructional context, and research methodology components. The count of adaptive learning articles published fluctuated across the decade and peaked in 2015. During this time, the largest concentration of adaptive learning articles appeared in Computers and Education. The majority of the studies occurred in higher education in Taiwan and the United States, with the highest concentration in the computer science discipline. The research focus, adaptive strategies, and adaptive technologies used in these studies were also reviewed. The research was aligned with various instructional design phases, with more studies examining design and development, and implementation and evaluation. For examining adaptive strategies, the authors examined both adaptive sources based on learner model and adaptive targets based on content and instructional model. Learning style was the most observed learner characteristic, while adaptive feedback and adaptive navigation were the most investigated adaptive targets. This study has implications for adaptive learning designers and future researchers regarding the gaps in adaptive learning research. Future studies might focus on the increasing availability and capacities of adaptive learning as a learning technology to assist individual learning and personalized growth.


This is a post-peer review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Educational Technology Research and Development. The final authenticated version is available online at:

Original Publication Citation

Martin, F., Chen, Y., Moore, R. L., & Westine, C. D. (2020). Systematic review of adaptive learning research designs, context, strategies, and technologies from 2009 to 2018. Educational Technology Research and Development 68,1903–1929.


0000-0002-5645-9297 (Moore)