Recent research has shown that example study only (EE) and example-problem pairs (EP) were more effective (i.e., higher test performance) and efficient (i.e., attained with less effort invested in learning and/or test tasks) than problem-example pairs (PE) and problem solving only (PP). We conducted two experiments to investigate how different example and problem-solving sequences would affect motivational (i.e., self-efficacy, perceived competence, and topic interest) and cognitive (i.e., effectiveness and efficiency) aspects of learning. In Experiment 1, 124 technical students learned a mathematical task with the help of EEEE, EPEP, PEPE, or PPPP and then completed a posttest. Students in the EEEE Condition showed higher posttest performance, self-efficacy, and perceived competence, attained with less effort investment, than students in the EPEP and PPPP Condition. Surprisingly, there were no differences between the EPEP and PEPE Condition on any of the outcome measures. We hypothesized that, because the tasks were relevant for technical students, starting with a problem might not have negatively affected their motivation. Therefore, we replicated the experiment with a different sample of 81 teacher training students. Experiment 2 showed an efficiency benefit of EEEE over EPEP, PEPE, and PPPP. However, only EEEE resulted in greater posttest performance, self-efficacy, and perceived competence than PPPP. We again did not find any differences between the EPEP and PEPE Condition. These results suggest that, at least when short training phases are used, studying examples (only) is more preferable than problem solving only for learning. Moreover, this study showed that example study (only) also enhances motivational aspects of learning whereas problem solving only does not positively affect students’ motivation at all.

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Keywords Example-based learning, Worked examples, Problem solving, Motivation, Mental effort, Instructional design
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Journal Contemporary Educational Psychology
Van Harsel, M, Hoogerheide, V, Verkoeijen, P.P.J.L, & van Gog, T.A.J.M. (2019). Effects of Different Sequences of Examples and Problems on Motivation and Learning. Contemporary Educational Psychology, in press. Retrieved from