Adaptive training, cognitive load theory, computer based training, spatial ability, aptitude treatment interaction, hybrid adaptive training, feedback


Computer-based training has become more prolific as the military and private business enterprises search for more efficient ways to deliver training. However, some methods of computer-based training are not more effective than traditional classroom methods. One technique that may be able to approximate the most effective form of training, one-on-one tutoring, is Adaptive Training (AT). AT techniques use instruction that is tailored to the learner in some way, and can adjust different training parameters such as difficulty, feedback, pace, and delivery mode. There are many ways to adapt training to the learner, and in this study I explored adapting the feedback provided to trainees based on spatial ability in line with Cognitive Load Theory (CLT). In line with the CLT expertise reversal effect literature I hypothesized that for a spatial task, higher ability trainees would perform better when they were given less feedback. Alternately, I hypothesized that lower ability trainees would perform better during training when they were given more support via feedback. This study also compared two different adaptation approaches. The first approach, called the ATI approach, adapts feedback based on a premeasured ability. In this case, it was spatial ability. The second approach, called the Hybrid approach adapts initially based on ability, but then based on performance later in training. I hypothesized that participants who received Hybrid adaptive training would perform better. The study employed a 2(spatial ability; high, low) X 2(feedback; matched, mismatched) X 2 (approach; ATI, Hybrid) between-subjects design in which participants were randomly assigned to one of the eight conditions. Ninety-two participants completed a submarine-based periscope operator task that was visual and spatial in nature. iv The results of the study did not support the use of CLT-derived adaptation based on spatial ability; contrary to what was hypothesized, higher ability participants who received more feedback performed better than those who received less. Similarly, lower ability participants who received less feedback performed better than those who received more. While not significant, results suggested there may be some benefit to using the Hybrid approach, but more research is needed to determine the relative effectiveness of this approach.


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Graduation Date





Mouloua, Mustapha


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program

Psychology; Human Factors Psychology








Release Date

May 2015

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Included in

Psychology Commons