Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 12-16-2022


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Instructional Technology (EdDIT)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Misook Heo

Committee Member

Xia Chao

Committee Member

Gibbs Y. Kanyongo


Adaptive Learning, Deeper Learning, Education in China, Educational Technology, Microlearning, Rural-urban Gap


Through multiple educational reforms, China has pursued developing well-rounded learners with solid content knowledge, higher-order thinking skills, and the ability to transfer knowledge to real-world problem spaces. The imbalance of learning resources between urban and rural China, however, has caused disadvantages for learners in rural China to gain access to quality educational opportunities necessary for becoming well-rounded learners. Luckily, the quickly growing Internet service coverage in rural China makes educational interventions possible. Online intervention aiming for many qualities of well-rounded learners, such as deeper learning, is particularly promising.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential of adaptive microlearning to improve deeper learning among public school students in rural areas of China. More specifically, this study investigated whether learners experienced deeper learning while engaging in a prototype adaptive microlearning module (Teaching Cell) to supplement traditional Chinese classroom learning. Teaching Cell adopted the deeper learning principles from Wickersham and McGee’s framework (2008).

The findings from quantitative data indicated that the Teaching Cell fulfilled many DLPs. For example, evidence supported the active learning principle, the engaged learner principle, the learner ownership principle, and the engaged activities principle. Mixed evidence was also found for the technology-supported principle, the intuitive design principle, and the facilitative teaching practices principle. However, there was a lack of evidence supporting the learner context principle. The findings from qualitative data were generally similar to the ones from quantitative data.

The current proof-of-concept study demonstrated the potential that adaptive microlearning, promoting deeper learning, has for improving the educational experience of rural Chinese public school students. While the study was designed in search of a way to help disadvantaged students from rural China, the study can be extended to assist students in urban China, as the government recently banned private companies from offering tutoring services for core subjects.