Many of us have experienced this before that before solving a difficult math question we prefer to study a similar worked-out example. The reason for this is the lack of competency that we have in solving the question although we may have sufficient knowledge to solve that problem. The worked-out examples simplify the question by showing us how we can solve a similar question.
Even though studying a worked-out example can be helpful, there are scenarios that learners do not know how to take benefit from it. Copying the solution from a worked-out example to solve a problem is fine as long as learners understand the solution’s method; in another word, learners should become competence in solving the problem. Therefore, the level of similarity between worked-out examples and problems to solve should be wisely chosen. While a worked-out example should have some similarities with the problem, it should also have some differences with the problem to encourage learners to think about solutions.
Research shows that because novices have insufficient prior knowledge to solve problems, they benefit more from studying worked examples than from solving problems. On the other hand, advanced learners prefer to solve problems on their own with minimum assistance. For advanced learners solving a problem is more suitable than studying worked-out examples which suggests that students with different expertise levels need different levels of assistance. Therefore, instructors should consider the learners’ knowledge when they ask learners to study worked-out examples or solve problems.
Expert teachers or tutors choose the best learning task at the right time for the right learners. That’s why you see many teachers explain worked-out examples during the learning session and then the teachers ask students to solve some questions on their own or in a team. That’s because initially, the teachers consider learners as novices who need to learn domain knowledge, but when students gained the domain knowledge, they need to solve problems with minimum assistance to have the competence in solving the problem.
Mwalimuplus (www.mealimuplus.com) is one of the unique intelligent educational systems that employ problem-solving and worked-out examples tasks in its pedagogical strategy. Studying worked-out examples is a broad concept, and in this post, I mentioned just a few benefits of worked-out examples. For instance, it is different that learners see a text-based explanation or watch a video that explains a worked-out example. Mwalimuplus considers most of the theories and suggestions about delivering worked-out examples, and that is why the system is suitable for novices and advanced students.