Effects of worked examples, example-problem, and problem-example pairs on novices' learning
Research has demonstrated that instruction that relies more heavily on example study is more effective for novices' learning than instruction consisting of problem solving. However, 'a heavier reliance on example study' has been implemented in different ways. For example, worked examples only (WE), example-problem pairs (WE-PS), or problem-example pairs (PS-WE) have been used. This study investigated the effectiveness of all three strategies compared to problem solving only (PS), using electrical circuits troubleshooting tasks; participants were secondary education students who were novices concerning those tasks. Based on prior research, it was hypothesized and confirmed that WE and WE-PS would lead to lower cognitive load during learning and higher learning outcomes than PS. In addition, the open questions of whether there would be any differences between WE and WE-PS, and whether there would be any differences between PS-WE and PS were explored. Results showed no differences between WE and WE-PS or between PS-WE and PS. This study can inform instructional designers on which example-based learning strategies to implement: it does not seem necessary to alternate example study and problem solving, but when doing so, example-problem pairs should be used rather than problem-example pairs.