Research has shown that for acquiring problem-solving skills, instruction consisting of studying worked examples is more effective and efficient for novice learners than instruction consisting of problem-solving. This study investigated whether worked examples would also be a useful instructional format for the acquisition of visual perceptual skills, which play an important role in many domains, and especially in health sciences (e.g. in radiology, dermatology, or cardiology). All novice participants were first given a general explanation of the basics of electrocardiogram (ECG) interpretation and the features of four cardiac disorders. Then they engaged in 12 practice tasks that presented them with ECG waveforms with abnormalities, which they either had to describe themselves ("problem-solving") or a description of which they had to study (worked example), depending on the condition to which they had been randomly assigned. Results showed that participants in the worked-examples conditions reached higher performance on the retention test, though not on the transfer test.

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ERIM Top-Core Articles
Interactive Learning Environments
Department of Psychology

van den Berge, K, van Gog, T.A.J.M, Mamede, S, Schmidt, H.G, van Saase, J.L.C.M, & Rikers, R.M.J.P. (2013). Acquisition of visual perceptual skills from worked examples: Learning to interpret electrocardiograms (ECGs). Interactive Learning Environments, 21(3), 263–272. doi:10.1080/10494820.2011.554422