The Interaction Effect of Practice Schedules and Practice Types on Unbiased Reasoning

  • Stefan Kolenbrander

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    Critical thinking (CT) is considered an essential 21st century skill needed in the growing complexity of society and professional environments. A critical thinker uses proper reasoning, that is reasoning without biases, in order to establish thought-out judgements. Alarmingly however, studies show that students have great difficulty with proper reasoning during judgement making. Meta-analysis on fostering CT-skills shows that teaching explicit knowledge on biases in reasoning combined with practice works best. However, what kind of practice yields the highest performance and transfer is still debated. Accordingly, the aim of this study was to test the effects of practice schedules and practice types in order to have students perform better on a reasoning performance test, that is unbiased reasoning. The interaction effect of interleaving tasks (opposed to blocked practice) with worked example (WE) practice (opposed to problem solving ((PS)) practice ) was hypothized to be promising. Interleaving practice, although demanding more pressure on cognitive load, might have learners discriminate between task types faster. WE practice, known to establish transfer, might also reduce this cognitive load, thereby enabling learners to benefit from the assumed positive effects of the interleaving practice schedule. Participants involved 116 second year students of the Avans Hogeschool following the Integral Risk Management program. A between and within-group design was set up in order to test the hypotheses by comparing the final scores between a pretest, post-test and delayed post-test (14 days). Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions namely; WE + interleaved practice, WE + blocked practice, PS + interleaved practice or PS + blocked practice. The specific reasoning task types used in the experiment involved syllogisms, Conjunction fallacies, Base-rate fallacies and the transfer tasks involved the Wason selection problem and the Contingency table problem. Measurements involved a reasoning tests containing 3 tasks per tasks type. The post and delayed post also contained the two transfer tasks. Results showed that there were no significant differences between the four conditions, therefore it is concluded that the hypothized interaction effect needs to be rejected. Possibly, the reasoning tasks were already discriminating enough by themselves and/or effects were eliminated caused by retrieval ques in the repetition of context features used per task. Accordingly, possible directions for future research are given.
    Date of Award31 May 2018
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Open Universiteit
    SupervisorKim Dirkx (Supervisor)


    • Critical thinking,
    • Unbiased reasoning
    • Interleaved practice
    • Worked example

    Cite this

    The Interaction Effect of Practice Schedules and Practice Types on Unbiased Reasoning
    Kolenbrander, S. (Author). 31 May 2018

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis