Applied Cognitive Psychology

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Examples, practice problems, or both? Effects on motivation and learning in shorter and longer sequences

Summary Research suggests some sequences of examples and problems (i.e., EE, EP) are more effective (higher test performance) and efficient (attained with equal/less mental effort) than others (PP, sometimes also PE). Recent findings suggest this is due to motivational variables (i.e., self‐efficacy), but did not test this during the training phase. Moreover, prior research used only short task sequences. Therefore, we investigated effects on motivational variables, effectiveness, and efficiency in a short (Experiment 1; four learning tasks; n = 157) and longer task sequence (Experiment 2; eight learning tasks; n = 105). With short sequences, all example conditions were more effective, efficient, and motivating than PP. With longer sequences, all example conditions were more motivating and efficient than PP, but only EE was more effective than PP. Moreover, EE was most efficient during training, regardless of sequence length. These results suggest that example study (only) is more effective, efficient, and more motivating than PP.

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