Effect of adding simple worked examples to problem-solving in algebra learning

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Revision as of 17:08, 26 February 2007 by Lisa-Anthony (talk | contribs) (Abstract)
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Lisa Anthony, Jie Yang, Kenneth R. Koedinger


This in vivo experiment compared differences in learning that occur when students problem solve vs when they problem solve aided by unlabeled examples. Students worked in the standard Cognitive Tutor Algebra lesson on 2-step problems. Those in the worked examples condition copied the worked example given to them using the solver's interface the first time they saw a particular problem type (i.e., ax+b=c or a/x=c); following that, an analogous example would appear each time the students solve a similar problem.

The hypothesis of this study was that students who were given the worked examples would experience improved learning in both normal learning and in terms of the robust learning measures of transfer and accelerated future learning. Copying the problem the first time the students encountered a particular problem type acts as additional scaffolding for students to solve the problems.

Results are forthcoming.


Forthcoming, but will probably include

  • Sample worked-out-example

Research question

Is robust learning affected by the addition of scaffolded worked examples to the problem-solving process?

Background & Significance

...Worked examples studies undergone at PSLC and beyond...

Independent Variables

One independent variable was used:

  • Inclusion of worked example: present or not present.


The inclusion of worked examples during the problem-solving process will have benefits for learning by virtue of the scaffolding provided by having the students copy the example the first time they see a particular problem type. more?

Dependent variables

  • Near transfer, immediate: Students were given a 15-minute post-test after their sessions with the computer tutor had concluded.
  • Near transfer, retention: No long-term retention measures were included in this study.
  • Far transfer: Far transfer items such as 3-step problems and literal equations were included on the immediate post-test.
  • Accelerated future learning: We intend to analyze the log data from the students' Cognitive Tutor usage in the equation solving unit that followed the 2-step problems, to determine if there were learning curve differences during training.


Final findings in progress.


This study is part of the Coordinative Learning cluster and addresses the examples and explanation sub-group.

The students were given examples throughout their use of the tutor. On the first instance of a particular problem type, students were asked to copy out a worked example; on subsequent instances, examples remained on the screen while students solved analogous problems.


Further Information

Connected to A multimodal (handwriting) interface for solving equations in the Refinement and Fluency cluster.