Soft Computing

, Volume 21, Issue 22, pp 6859–6880 | Cite as

A zSlices-based general type-2 fuzzy logic system for users-centric adaptive learning in large-scale e-learning platforms

  • Khalid Almohammadi
  • Hani Hagras
  • Daniyal Alghazzawi
  • Ghadah Aldabbagh
Methodologies and Application


Sophisticated educational technologies are evolving rapidly, and online courses are becoming more easily available, generating interest in innovating lightweight data-driven adaptive approaches that foster responsive teaching and improving the overall learning experience. However, in most existing adaptive educational systems, the black-box modeling of learner and instructional models based on the views of a few designers or experts tended to drive the adaptation of learning content. However, different sources of uncertainty could affect these views, including how accurately the proposed adaptive educational methods actually assess student responses and the corresponding uncertainties associated with how students receive and comprehend the resulting instruction. E-learning environments contain high levels of linguistic uncertainties, whereby students can interpret and act on the same terms, words, or methods (e.g., course difficulty, length of study time, or preferred learning style) in various ways according to varying levels of motivation, pre-knowledge, cognition, and future plans. Thus, one adaptive instructional model does not fit the needs of all students. Basing the instruction model on determining learners’ interactions within the learning environment in interpretable and easily read white-box models is crucial for adapting the model to students’ needs and understanding how learning is realized. This paper presents a new zSlices-based type-2 fuzzy-logic-based system that can learn students’ preferred knowledge delivery needs based on their characteristics and current levels of knowledge to generate an adaptive learning environment. We have evaluated the proposed system’s efficiency through various large-scale, real-world experiments involving 1871 students from King Abdulaziz University. These experiments demonstrate the proposed zSlices type-2 fuzzy-logic-based system’s capability for handling linguistic uncertainties to produce better performance, particularly in terms of enhanced student performance and improved success rates compared with interval type-2 fuzzy logic, type-1 fuzzy systems, adaptive, instructor-led systems, and non-adaptive systems.


Type-2 fuzzy logic systems E-learning Intelligent learning environments 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All the authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual human participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Khalid Almohammadi
    • 1
  • Hani Hagras
    • 1
  • Daniyal Alghazzawi
    • 2
  • Ghadah Aldabbagh
    • 3
  1. 1.The Computational Intelligence Centre, School of Computer Science and Electronic EngineeringUniversity of EssexColchesterUK
  2. 2.Information Systems Department, Faculty of Computing and Information TechnologyKing Abdulaziz UniversityJeddahSaudi Arabia
  3. 3.Computer Science Department, Faculty of Computing and Information TechnologyKing Abdulaziz UniversityJeddahSaudi Arabia

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