Guiding secondary school students during task selection

M.L. Nugteren*, H.M. Jarodzka, Liesbeth Kester, Jeroen J.G. Van Merriënboer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Secondary school students often learn new cognitive skills by practicing with tasks that vary in difficulty, amount of support and/or content. Occasionally, they have to select these tasks themselves. Studies on task-selection guidance investigated either procedural guidance (specific rules for selecting tasks) or strategic guidance (general rules and explanations for task selection), but never directly compared them. Experiment 1 aimed to replicate these studies by comparing procedural guidance and strategic guidance to a no-guidance condition, in an electronic learning environment in which participants practiced eight self-selected tasks. Results showed no differences in selected tasks during practice and domain-specific skill acquisition between the experimental groups. A possible explanation for this is an ineffective combination of feedback and feed forward (i.e. the task-selection advice). The second experiment compared inferential guidance (which combines procedural feedback with strategic feed forward), to a no-guidance condition. Results showed that participants selected more difficult, less-supported tasks after receiving inferential guidance than after no guidance. Differences in domain-specific skill acquisition were not significant, but higher conformity to inferential guidance did significantly predict higher domain-specific skill acquisition. Hence, we conclude that inferential guidance can positively affect task selections and domain-specific skill acquisition, but only when conformity is high.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-339
Number of pages15
JournalInteractive LearnIng Environments
Issue number1
Early online date3 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Task selection
  • conformity
  • feed forward
  • feedback
  • procedural guidance
  • strategic guidance


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