Applied Cognitive Psychology

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Providing worked examples for learning multiple principles

Summary Worked examples support learning. However, if they introduce easy‐to‐confuse concepts or principles, specific ways of providing worked examples may influence their effectiveness. Multiple worked examples can be introduced blocked (i.e., several for the same principle) or interleaved (i.e., switching between principles), and can be sequentially or simultaneously presented. Crossing these two factors provides four ways of presenting worked examples: blocked/sequential, interleaved/sequential, blocked/simultaneous, and interleaved/simultaneous. In an experiment with university students (N = 174), we investigated how these two factors influence the acquisition of procedural and conceptual knowledge about different, but closely related (thus, easy‐to‐confuse) stochastic principles. Additionally, we assessed the ability of students to discriminate between principles with verification tasks. Simultaneous presentation benefitted procedural knowledge whereas, interleaved presentation benefitted conceptual knowledge. No significant differences were found for verification tasks. The results suggest that it is worthwhile to adapt the presentation of the worked examples to the learning goals.

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