Instructional Science

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 289–307

The expertise reversal effect and worked examples in tutored problem solving

  • Ron J. C. M. Salden
  • Vincent Aleven
  • Rolf Schwonke
  • Alexander Renkl


Prior research has shown that tutored problem solving with intelligent software tutors is an effective instructional method, and that worked examples are an effective complement to this kind of tutored problem solving. The work on the expertise reversal effect suggests that it is desirable to tailor the fading of worked examples to individual students’ growing expertise levels. One lab and one classroom experiment were conducted to investigate whether adaptively fading worked examples in a tutored problem-solving environment can lead to higher learning gains. Both studies compared a standard Cognitive Tutor with two example-enhanced versions, in which the fading of worked examples occurred either in a fixed manner or in a manner adaptive to individual students’ understanding of the examples. Both experiments provide evidence of improved learning results from adaptive fading over fixed fading over problem solving. We discuss how to further optimize the fading procedure matching each individual student’s changing knowledge level.


Cognitive tutor Worked examples Adaptive fading Expertise reversal effect 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ron J. C. M. Salden
    • 1
  • Vincent Aleven
    • 2
  • Rolf Schwonke
    • 3
  • Alexander Renkl
    • 3
  1. 1.Human–Computer Interaction InstituteCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Human–Computer Interaction InstituteCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Psychological Institute Educational and Developmental PsychologyUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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