Learning by problem solving versus examples: The benefits of generating and receiving information

Fourteenth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
Lovett, M. C.
Lawrence Erlbaum

This experiment contrasts learning by solving problems with learning by studying examples, while attempting to control for the elaborations that accompany each solution step. Subjects were given different instruction materials for a set of probability problems. They were either provided with or asked to generate solutions, and they were either provided with or asked to create their own explanations for the solutions. Subjects were then tested on a set of related problems. Subjects in all four conditions exhibited good performance on the near transfer test problems. On the far transfer problems, however, subjects in two cells exhibited stronger performance: those solving and elaborating on their own and those recieving both solutions and elaborations from the experimenter. There also was an indication of a generation effect in the far transfer case, benefiting subjects who generated their own solutions. In addition, subjects' self-explanations on a particular concept were predictive of good performance on the corresponding subtask of the test problems.