RAA 1: Effects of different ratios of worked solution steps and problem solving opportunities on cognitive load and learning outcomes

Worked Example (keyword):  is a step-by-step demonstration of how to perform a task or how to solve a problem” (Clark, Nguyen, Sweller, 2006).

Purpose of the research: The purpose of this research is to address the question of how quickly worked examples should be faded and replaced by to-be-solved problems to be most beneficial for learning.

Background: The research is grounded on three things: expert-reverse effect, assistance dilemma, and that the speed of fading worked examples should be adjusted accordingly to the  difficulty of the problem against the learn’s background.

Expert-reverse effect suggests that most appropriate student guidance is provided when a procedure provides much support (e.g. worked examples) in the beginning of a learning phase and increasingly less support when the learners proceed in skill acquisition (Kalyuga, Ayres, Chandler, & Sweller, 2003; Kalyuga & Hanham, 2011).

Assistance dilemma claims it is crucial to hold the right balance between giving support (worked examples) to the students and deliberately withholding it (e.g. to-be-solved problems) (Koedinger & Aleven, 2007).



So the research sampled 125 german high-school student in computer aided cognitive tutor lesson on circles geometry, in which three geometry principles were taught. And within those three principles there were five learning opportunities / steps, which are either worked examples or to-be-solved problems.

In the research procedure, first demographics information was collected by asking participants to fill out a questionnaire. Then, a written introduction to the three mathematical principles were given to all participants to read. And before learning phases started, participants were on two introductory problems to familiarize themselves with the system. Both before and after the learning phase, a cognitive load questionnaire and a test  of both procedure and conceptual problems in different difficulty levels were conducted for the purpose of comparison. The data were analyzed using statistical methods to show statistical significances.

Main findings:

Support: learners rated extraneous load as induced by to-be-solved steps generally to be higher than extraneous load as induced by worked steps.

Support: ratings of extraneous load were generally negatively related to learning outcomes.

Don’t support: extraneous load would decrease as a result of higher ratios of worked steps.

Support: Scores related to easy principle show significant difference for different rations of worked steps and to-be-sloved steps.

Don’t support: No significancy difference between different ratios of worked steps and to-be-solved steps with respect to conceptual knowledge related to the easy rule or with respect to procedural or conceptual scores related to the difficult rule.

My thoughts: First of all, let me explain how I came across this paper. I don’t really know where to find HCI papers. I tried Dr. V’s publications, but it seem to be that they are all studies on social networking not HCI. I remembered University of Maryland has a department for HCI. And this the the first paper of the first person of UMD’s HCII department. I used this not because I’m particularly interested in this area. It’s just so that I won’t be wasting more time searching for papers online.

The interesting thing about this article is that it’s clearly using quantitative research methods. I see familiar things in the STAT 501 class that I’m taking this semester. This shows to me that we don’t necessarily have to use qualitative research method in studying interaction. I don’t see the author of this paper mentioning interview or observation of the participants. I just want to say what a fresh change. Every Wednesday is a battle of my STAT 501 instructor defending quantitative research methods, and Dr. V my CGT 512 professor selling qualitative research methods. I’m pro quantitative by my engineering and science nature. Qualitative research method is like witch craft to me. I almost gave up on further studying in HCI, because I haven’t seen anything in our textbook or reading about using quantitative method studying interaction design just until last week.

I’m really interested to find out more about what those numbers mean. And the way the author present the data is also quite different than what I’ve learned in my STAT 501 class, so it’s also worth exploring.


1 thought on “RAA 1: Effects of different ratios of worked solution steps and problem solving opportunities on cognitive load and learning outcomes

  1. This is a paper about CS education, not HCI. Please see http://cgt512.wordpress.com/2012/09/05/assignment-research-article-analysis-raa-2/ – it gets you started on places where you can find articles to read for your RAAs.

    Also, please include the full article citation in your RAA. See examples of how your classmates write theirs.

    It’s not that some methods are better than others. Some methods are more useful than others in particular contexts, for particular problems. The trick is to know how to choose the right tool for the problem. If you are interested in how statistics are used in usability research, you can find usability research articles that use statistics (search Google Scholar) and review them.

    Your points on BB

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