Does an individualized learning design improve university student online learning? A randomized field experiment

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


  • Julia Dietrich
  • Franziska Greiner
  • Dorit Weber-Liel
  • Belinda Berweger
  • Nicole Kämpfe
  • Bärbel Kracke

University courses often employ “one-size-fits-all” approaches, disregarding the heterogeneity in students' cognitive and motivational characteristics. This intervention study reports on an individualized learning design for online teaching in higher education. In a randomized field experiment with N = 438 university students (57% female, mean age M = 20.96 years), we investigated the effects of the learning design on students' motivation (self-concept, self-efficacy, intrinsic and utility task values), on their performance, and, because our sample consisted of teacher students, on their professional development with regard to inclusive education. Employing structural equation modeling, we found that the intervention positively affected the self-concepts of effort avoidant students. The intervention also positively impacted students' attitudes and self-efficacy towards inclusive education, but had no effect on course performance, course-related self-efficacy and task values. Moreover, learning analytics data revealed in-depth information on students’ learning behavior. Results are discussed regarding possible intervention strategies to be implemented in future versions of the learning design.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106819
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 01.09.2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a grant from the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft , Germany, and the Thuringian Ministry for Economic Affairs, Science and Digital Society awarded to Julia Dietrich, and by grant no. 01JA1808 from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research , Germany, awarded to Bärbel Kracke.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd

    Research areas

  • Individualized learning design, Online learning, Student motivation, Performance, Attitudes towards inclusive education, Teacher students
  • Educational science