Type of Document Dissertation Author Brooks, Christopher Darren URN etd-10222009-202302 Title Effects of Process-Oriented and Product-Oriented Worked Examples and Prior Knowledge on Learner Problem Solving and Attitude: A Study in the Domain of Microeconomics Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Aubteen Darabi Committee Chair Linda B. Schrader Committee Member Robert A. Reiser Committee Member Gerald R. Ferris University Representative Keywords
- Prior Knowledge
- Learner Attitude
- Cognitive Load Theory
- Problem Solving
- Worked Examples
Date of Defense 2009-09-11 Availability unrestricted AbstractThe purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of process-oriented and product-oriented worked example strategies and the mediating effect of prior knowledge (high versus low) on problem solving and learner attitude in the domain of microeconomics. In addition, the effect of these variables on learning efficiency as well as the influence of learner attitude on mental effort was explored as part of a secondary analysis.
Four-hundred fifteen undergraduate students enrolled in an introductory microeconomics course participated in the study. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three instructional strategies (process-oriented, product-oriented, or conventional problem solving) developed for this study. In addition, participants’ were classified during the analysis phase as either low prior knowledge or high prior knowledge groups based on scores from a prior knowledge assessment. In the process-oriented strategy condition, participants were exposed to a fully worked out example that presented both procedural “how” and strategic (principle-based) “why” information underlying the solution. Participants in the product-oriented strategy condition were presented a worked out example with procedural information showing the steps necessary to solve a problem. In both worked example strategy conditions, participants completed a series of four process-oriented worked examples and three practice problems. Participants assigned to the conventional problem solving condition were asked to complete seven practice-problems.
Regardless of the instructional condition, all participants received immediate feedback (i.e., correct answer) after the completion of a practice problem. The study included two instructional components: (1) a common lecture, and (2) completion of a print-based instructional activity. The twenty-minute lecture provided a conceptual overview of the impact of taxes on market activity. Two days later participants were assigned to one of the three instructional conditions and given fifty-minutes to complete the instructional activity. A performance assessment was administered four-days later to measure learning and transfer.
Results suggested that instructional strategy had a minimal affect on participant learning and transfer performance, mental effort, and attitude toward the instruction. However, mean scores on the achievement test assessing student learning were found to be slightly higher for participants in either one of the worked example instructional strategies when compared to conventional problem solving. For mental effort, the findings indicated that participants, regardless of instructional strategy, invested a low amount of mental effort during the instructional tasks. Similarly, participants reported a relatively high (i.e., positive) attitude toward the instruction. In a post hoc analysis, participants in both the product-oriented worked example and the conventional problem solving groups that self-reported a higher level of confidence toward the instruction also invested a higher degree of mental effort during the instructional task. The study did support the mediating effect of prior knowledge on each dependent measure.
The results of the present study have implications for the design of example-based instruction and for further research exploration of instructional task sequencing. Based on the findings of the present study, it is recommended that instructional designers consider participants’ level of knowledge when designing learning strategies to teach complex problem solving skills. Furthermore, developing instructional methods or systems that adapt to a learner’s cognitive and motivational differences has implications for the measurement of mental efficiency and the design of instructional and feedback protocols. Consequently, the implications for the design and utilization of process-oriented worked examples as a component of a sequenced instructional strategy are discussed further.
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