BACKGROUND: Example-based learning using worked examples can foster clinical reasoning. Worked examples are instructional tools that learners can use to study the steps needed to solve a problem. Studying worked examples paired with completion examples promotes acquisition of problem-solving skills more than studying worked examples alone. Completion examples are worked examples in which some of the solution steps remain unsolved for learners to complete. Providing learners engaged in example-based learning with self-explanation prompts has been shown to foster increased meaningful learning compared to providing no self-explanation prompts. Concept mapping and concept map study are other instructional activities known to promote meaningful learning. This study compares the effects of self-explaining, completing a concept map and studying a concept map on conceptual knowledge and problem-solving skills among novice learners engaged in example-based learning.METHODS: Ninety-one physiotherapy students were randomized into three conditions. They performed a pre-test and a post-test to evaluate their gains in conceptual knowledge and problem-solving skills (transfer performance) in intervention selection. They studied three pairs of worked/completion examples in a digital learning environment. Worked examples consisted of a written reasoning process for selecting an optimal physiotherapy intervention for a patient. The completion examples were partially worked out, with the last few problem-solving steps left blank for students to complete. The students then had to engage in additional self-explanation, concept map completion or model concept map study in order to synthesize and deepen their knowledge of the key concepts and problem-solving steps.RESULTS: Pre-test performance did not differ among conditions. Post-test conceptual knowledge was higher (P < .001) in the concept map study condition (68.8 ± 21.8%) compared to the concept map completion (52.8 ± 17.0%) and self-explanation (52.2 ± 21.7%) conditions. Post-test problem-solving performance was higher (P < .05) in the self-explanation (63.2 ± 16.0%) condition compared to the concept map study (53.3 ± 16.4%) and concept map completion (51.0 ± 13.6%) conditions. Students in the self-explanation condition also invested less mental effort in the post-test.CONCLUSIONS: Studying model concept maps led to greater conceptual knowledge, whereas self-explanation led to higher transfer performance. Self-explanation and concept map study can be combined with worked example and completion example strategies to foster intervention selection.

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Journal BMC Medical Education
Dyer, J.-O, Hudon, A, Montpetit-Tourangeau, K, Charlin, B, Mamede, S, & van Gog, T.A.J.M. (2015). Example-based learning: comparing the effects of additionally providing three different integrative learning activities on physiotherapy intervention knowledge. BMC Medical Education, 15. doi:10.1186/s12909-015-0308-3