ALTC to fund Adaptive Tutorials in leading Australian Universities

Gangadhara Prusty (Mech Eng) has been awarded an ALTC competitive grant funding of $211,000 to develop and share use of adaptive tutorials in mechanics courses in engineering.

Adaptive Tutorials (ATs) provide a way of dealing with common sticking points, or 'threshold concepts' that prevent students progressing in the study of mechanics. These can sometimes be picked up by skilled one-to-one coaching but are usually missed by traditional 'book and board' teaching in large classes. The Adaptive tutorials use artificial intelligence (AI) principles along with online interactive virtual laboratory activities (simulations), to:

  • track each student’s interaction with the simulation, and provide tailored feedback
  • generate data that teachers can use to identify common conceptual sticking points in large classes
  • provide information for adjusting the simulation, feedback and other learning activities in a course to help students through threshold concepts.


Pilots in Mechanical Engineering courses at UNSW have established the effectiveness of the tools and method. The ALTC funded project is entitled 'An adaptive eLearning community of practice for mechanics courses in engineering' and aims to extend use of this technology through the development, use and dissemination of a set of Adaptive eLearning Tutorials that target identified threshold concepts in the field. Furthermore, this project will foster a community of practice revolving around the use of such technology through a strong focus on staff training and cross-institutional, cross disciplinary, collaboration and related staff development events.

Led by Dr. Prusty, the project team involves engineering educators in UNSW and three other universities Zora Vrcelj (Civen), Prof Tim McCarthy (U Wollongong), Anne Gardner UTS, and Roberto Ojeda (U Tasmania). Other Faculty staff on the team include Carol Russell (Education Research Fellow), Nadine Marcus (CSE), Dror Ben-Naim (CSE) and Shaowei Ho (Mech Eng Hons Grad).

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