Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based teaching

Paul A. Kirschner, John Sweller, Richard Clark

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Evidence for the superiority of guided instruction is explained in the context of our knowledge of human cognitive architecture, expert–novice differences, and cognitive load. Although unguided or minimally guided instructional approaches are very popular and intuitively appealing, the point is made that these approaches ignore both the structures that constitute human cognitive architecture and evidence from empirical studies over the past half-century that consistently indicate that minimally guided instruction is less effective and less efficient than instructional approaches that place a strong emphasis on guidance of the student learning process. The advantage of guidance begins to recede only when learners have sufficiently high prior knowledge to provide “internal” guidance. Recent developments in instructional research and instructional designmodels that support guidance during instruction are briefly described
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-86
JournalEducational Psychologist
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2016



  • Instruction
  • constructivist teaching
  • discovery teaching
  • Problem-based teaching
  • Experiential,teaching
  • Inquiry-Based Teaching

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