What are ‘worked examples’ and how do they boost student learning?

worked examples

Worked examples are step-by-step explanations or examples of how to solve a particular problem or complete a task. These examples help students understand the problem-solving process and provide a model for how to apply the concepts they are learning. Not only do they include an example of work completed, but they often include annotations/success criteria explaining components.

Worked examples have been shown to boost student learning in several ways:

  1. Improved problem-solving skills: Worked examples provide students with a clear and concrete demonstration of how to solve a problem, which can help them develop their problem-solving skills.
  2. Increased motivation: Seeing the process of solving a problem or completing a task can help students feel more confident and motivated to tackle similar tasks on their own.
  3. Reduced cognitive load: When used appropriately, they can simplify the problem-solving process, reducing the cognitive load on students and allowing them to focus on the key concepts and strategies.
  4. Enhanced understanding: Because they are so visual, they provide students with a deeper understanding of the concepts and procedures involved in solving a problem or completing a task, which can improve their long-term retention and transfer of the material.

In conclusion, worked examples stand as a powerful ally for enhancing student learning, particularly in subjects demanding problem-solving skills like mathematics, science, and engineering. These examples, with their clarity and concreteness, play a crucial role in skill development, motivation enhancement, and deepening understanding. They serve as reliable guides, simplifying complex concepts and building students’ confidence in their academic journey. By incorporating worked examples strategically, educators can foster an environment where students feel empowered to tackle challenges and achieve academic success. Thus, the use of worked examples emerges not just as a teaching method but as a supportive framework for students navigating the intricacies of their studies.

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