The worked example effect indicates that learning by studying worked examples is more effective than learning by solving the equivalent problems. The expertise reversal effect indicates that this is only the case for novice learners; once prior knowledge of the task is available problem solving becomes more effective for learning. These effects, however, have mainly been studied using highly structured tasks. This study investigated whether they also occur on less structured tasks, in this case, learning to reason about legal cases. Less structured tasks take longer to master, and hence, examples may remain effective for a longer period of time. Novice and advanced law students received either a description of general process steps they should take, worked examples, worked examples including the process steps, or no instructional support for reasoning. Results show that worked examples were more effective for learning than problem-solving, both for novice and advanced students, even though the latter had significantly more prior knowledge. So, a worked example effect was found for both novice and advanced students, and no evidence for an expertise-reversal effect was found with these less structured tasks.

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Keywords Cognitive load, Expertise, Law education, Worked examples
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Journal Contemporary Educational Psychology
Nievelstein, F, van Gog, T.A.J.M, van Dijck, G, & Boshuizen, H.P.A. (2013). The worked example and expertise reversal effect in less structured tasks: Learning to reason about legal cases. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 38(2), 118–125. doi:10.1016/j.cedpsych.2012.12.004