Incorporating Cognitive Styles in AHA! (The Adaptive Hypermedia Architecture)

N. Stash and P. De Bra (The Netherlands)


Cognitive styles, user modeling, adaptive hypermedia, field dependence/independence, verbalizer/visualizer


Adaptive educational hypermedia environments use properties of the application domain (e.g. conceptual structure of a course, with prerequisite relationships) to perform adaptation based on the user's browsing behaviour. This paper adds the idea of including cognitive styles in the adaptation decisions. Research on cognitive styles suggests that taking the styles into account can significantly influence a user's performance in an educational hypermedia system. AHA! provides a general-purpose Web-based adaptive environment. It allows to adapt the content of the webpages shown to the individual users and the links on these pages on the basis of arbitrary user characteristics such as (perceived) knowledge, interest or preferences. This paper describes how to incorporate cognitive styles in AHA!. We apply recommendations from existing research on the design of hypermedia systems aiming at providing adaptation to cognitive styles. The main objectives we want to achieve are: (1) avoiding the questionnaires for identifying cognitive styles and instead trying to infer aspects of a user's cognitive style by observing his browsing behavior, (2) providing the designers with the ability to associate different teaching strategies with particular cognitive styles which they want to take into account for their adaptive applications.

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