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Computer-supported example-based learning: When instructional explanations reduce self-explanations


Computers & Education Volume 46, Number 4, ISSN 0360-1315 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


We investigated whether the findings from worked-out example research on the effects of self-explanation prompts and on instructional explanations can be generalized to other example types – in this case: solved example problems. Whereas worked-out examples consist of a problem formulation, solution steps, and the final solution, solved example problems merely provide the problem formulation and the solution. We employed a first module of a computer-based environment for student teachers presenting solved example problems from which they learned how to select and to design worked-out examples for high school students. The participants (47 student teachers for German low- and medium-track schools and 33 student teachers for high-track schools) were randomly assigned to the cells of our 2×2 design (with vs. without self-explanation prompts; with vs. without instructional explanations). The effects of the different program versions on objective and subjective learning outcomes, on the perceived helpfulness of the program, and on the learning time were analyzed. As learning process data, the written and spoken self-explanations were assessed. The following main results were obtained: Particularly self-explanation prompts had favorable effects on learning outcomes, whereas instructional explanations can reduce the student teacher’s self-explanation activities and thereby the learning outcomes. Whereas “objectively” the most favorable learning outcomes were obtained when only self-explanation prompts were employed, the student teachers perceived their learning outcome best when only instructional explanations were provided. It can be concluded that the status of self-explanation prompts and of instructional explanations is comparable irrespective of the example type presented for learning.


Schworm, S. & Renkl, A. (2006). Computer-supported example-based learning: When instructional explanations reduce self-explanations. Computers & Education, 46(4), 426-445. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved March 26, 2023 from .

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