Tutored Problem Solving vs. “Pure” Worked Examples


At present a handful of comparisons have been made of different variants of worked examples and tutored problem solving. There is some evidence to report a benefit of adding worked examples (WE) to current tutored problem solving (TPS) environments. Our research investigated how a “pure” WE condition could compete with a TPS condition. By pure we mean the WE condition does not include tutoring, a self-explanation component, or fading. We report on two experiments. We showed statistically significant evidence of learning benefits, both in terms of amount learned and rate of learning, from assigning WE to conceptual problems and TPS to procedural problems. Higher prior knowledge students tended to learn more with WE, and those with low knowledge tended to learn more with TPS, but these results were not significant. We found no statistically significant interaction between student preferences for one approach or the other and their performance. These results have important practical ramifications and raise interesting questions regarding the nature of student learning.

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