Effects of worked examples and algebra problem -solving skill on error and cognitive load

Dean Henry Loring, Florida International University


This study determined the levels of algebra problem solving skill at which worked examples promoted learning of further problem solving skill and reduction of cognitive load in college developmental algebra students. Problem solving skill was objectively measured as error production; cognitive load was subjectively measured as perceived mental effort. Sixty-three Ss were pretested, received homework of worked examples or mass problem solving, and posttested. Univarate ANCOVA (covariate = previous grade) were performed on the practice and posttest data. The factors used in the analysis were practice strategy (worked examples vs. mass problem solving) and algebra problem solving skill (low vs. moderate vs. high). Students in the practice phase who studied worked examples exhibited (a) fewer errors and reduced cognitive load, at moderate skill; (b) neither fewer errors nor reduced cognitive load, at low skill; and (c) only reduced cognitive load, at high skill. In the posttest, only cognitive load was reduced. The results suggested that worked examples be emphasized for developmental students with moderate problem solving skill. Areas for further research were discussed.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Mathematics education|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Loring, Dean Henry, "Effects of worked examples and algebra problem -solving skill on error and cognitive load" (2003). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3090767.