Goal Ontology for Personalized Learning and Its Implementation in Child's Health Self-Management Support

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Intelligent tutoring systems need a model of learning goals for the personalization of educational content, tailoring of the learning path, progress monitoring, and adaptive feedback. This article presents such a model and corresponding interaction designs for the coaches and learners (respectively, a monitor-and-control dashboard and mobile app with supportive communications trough a virtual agent), all deployed and tested in a system for child diabetes self-management training. We developed a domain-independent upper ontology to structure learning goals and related concepts (such as achievements and tasks) and a domain ontology that specifies the knowledge base (for, in our case, diabetes self-management training). With this approach, we relate knowledge elements (e.g., skill) to educational tasks and to learners' knowledge development (e.g., achievements). The ontology was implemented in a multimodal tutoring system consisting of mobile educative games, a health diary, an embodied conversational agent (ECA), and a web application for authoring and monitoring. We show that our model provides a coherent and concise foundation for: 1) the formalization of learning in the diabetes self-management domain, but also for other domains such as mathematics; 2) personal goal setting and thereby personalization of the educational process including ECA's guidance; and 3) creating awareness of progress on the personal educational path. We found that a motivational tutoring system requires a rich set of learning activities and accompanying materials of which a subset is offered to the learner based on personal relevance. The implemented model proved to accommodate the personal agent-guided learning paths of children with diabetes, under different treatments from hospitals in Italy and the Netherlands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)903-918
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Diabetes
  • Diabetes self-management
  • education
  • Education
  • human-agent interaction
  • Knowledge based systems
  • knowledge-base
  • learning goal
  • objective
  • Ontologies
  • ontology
  • OWL
  • Task analysis
  • Training


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