Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 379–392 | Cite as

Accounting for Beneficial Effects of Worked Examples in Tutored Problem Solving

  • Ron J. C. M. SaldenEmail author
  • Kenneth R. Koedinger
  • Alexander Renkl
  • Vincent Aleven
  • Bruce M. McLaren
Review Article


Recent studies have tested the addition of worked examples to tutored problem solving, a more effective instructional approach than the untutored problem solving used in prior worked example research. These studies involved Cognitive Tutors, software designed to support problem solving while minimizing extraneous cognitive load by providing prompts for problem sub-goals, step-based immediate feedback, and context-sensitive hints. Results across eight studies in three different domains indicate that adding examples to Cognitive Tutors is beneficial, particularly for decreasing the instructional time needed and perhaps also for achieving more robust learning outcomes. These studies bolster the practical importance of examples in learning, but are also of theoretical interest. By using a stronger control condition than previous studies, these studies provide a basis for refining Cognitive Load Theory explanations of the benefits of examples. Perhaps, in addition to other reasons, examples may help simply because they more quickly provide novices with information needed to induce generalized knowledge.


Worked examples Cognitive tutors Cognitive load theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ron J. C. M. Salden
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kenneth R. Koedinger
    • 2
  • Alexander Renkl
    • 3
  • Vincent Aleven
    • 2
  • Bruce M. McLaren
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceWorcester Polytechnic InstituteWorcesterUSA
  2. 2.Human-Computer Interaction InstituteCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Psychological InstituteUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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