The worked example and expertise reversal effect in less structured tasks: Learning to reason about legal cases

Fleurie Nievelstein, Tamara Van Gog, Gijs Van Dijck, Els Boshuizen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    Abstract

    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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)118-125
    Number of pages8
    JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
    Volume38
    Issue number2
    Early online date28 Dec 2012
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013

    Keywords

    • worked examples
    • expertise
    • cognitive load
    • law education

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