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Learning with worked examples

Learning with worked examples

In general tasks are used in lessons to practice and to test knowledge and competences. For some time expertise research is increasingly attending to a special type of tasks, so called worked examples.

Worked examples are hardly used in biology lessons at present although learning -especially in biology- is inseparably combined with examples. In lessons examples stands for something special, fundamental or significant which has to be learned. Exceptionally examples, like the fish tapeworm rouses interest and attention. They motive learners and activate them. Other examples represent fundamental principles and concepts of biology and support generalizations and processes of abstraction.

The specificity of worked examples is that they contain next to the problem formulation a more or less detailed solution itself. Thereby they present the underlying concept of the solution in concrete application and are shown to be effective for enhancing expertise acquisition.

On the basis of the expert paradigm numerous studies have shown that the effectiveness of worked examples depends on how intensive the learner deal with the given solution, how intensive the learner explain the given solution to themselves. Here both the quantity and the quality are relevant for learning success.

Students with average domain specific prior knowledge were not taken into account in research so far. Accordingly, a majority of students cannot be supported by biological worked examples that are adjusted to prior knowledge. The approach proposed by this project is to clarify how the self-explanation characteristics of students with average prior knowledge look like and how worked examples respectively the self-explanation prompts should be designed in order to enhance the expertise acquisition as effectively as possible. Regarding to domain specific prior knowledge, students with average prior knowledge represents the transition from novices to experts. In a further step it should be clarified which worked example features foster the transition from learning with worked examples (which is especially effective for novices) to autonomous problem-solving (which is more beneficial for experts) in an optimal way. The aim of the project is to enhance the problem-solving skills via inter example features and via enhancing the quality of self-explanations when learning with worked examples.


Researchers involved:

Charlotte Neubrand (until 01/16)