Individual differences in learning from worked examples by senior secondary mathematics students

Dwyer, Terry (2001) Individual differences in learning from worked examples by senior secondary mathematics students. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The primary purpose of this research was to examine individual differences in learning from worked examples. By integrating cognitive style theory and cognitive load theory, it was hypothesised that an interaction existed between individual cognitive style and the structure and presentation of worked examples in their effect upon subsequent student problem solving. In particular, it was hypothesised that Analytic-Verbalisers, Analytic-Imagers, and Wholist-lmagers would perform better on a posttest after learning from structured-pictorial worked examples than after learning from unstructured worked examples. For Analytic-Verbalisers it was reasoned that the cognitive effort required to impose structure on unstructured worked examples would hinder learning. Alternatively, it was expected that Wholist-Verbalisers would display superior performances after learning from unstructured worked examples than after learning from structured-pictorial worked examples. The images of the structured-pictorial format, incongruent with the Wholist-Verbaliser style, would be expected to split attention between the text and the diagrams. The information contained in the images would also be a source of redundancy and not easily ignored in the integrated structured-pictorial format. Despite a number of authors having emphasised the need to include individual differences as a fundamental component of problem solving within domainspecific subjects such as mathematics, few studies have attempted to investigate a relationship between mathematical or science instructional method, cognitive style, and problem solving. Cognitive style theory proposes that the structure and presentation of learning material is likely to affect each of the four cognitive styles differently. No study could be found which has used Riding's (1997) model of cognitive style as a framework for examining the interaction between the structural presentation of worked examples and an individual's cognitive style. 269 Year 12 Mathematics B students from five urban and rural secondary schools in Queensland, Australia participated in the main study. A factorial (three treatments by four cognitive styles) between-subjects multivariate analysis of variance indicated a statistically significant interaction. As the difficulty of the posttest components increased, the empirical evidence supporting the research hypotheses became more pronounced. The rigour of the study's theoretical framework was further tested by the construction of a measure of instructional efficiency, based on an index of cognitive load, and the construction of a measure of problem-solving efficiency, based on problem-solving time. The consistent empirical evidence within this study that learning from worked examples is affected by an interaction of cognitive style and the structure and presentation of the worked examples emphasises the need to consider individual differences among senior secondary mathematics students to enhance educational opportunities. Implications for teaching and learning are discussed and recommendations for further research are outlined.

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

15 since deposited on 22 Sep 2010
5 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 36665
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: English, Lyn D. & Nason, Rodney A.
Additional Information: Presented to the Centre for Mathematics and Science Education, Queensland University of Technology.
Keywords: Mathematics Study and teaching (Secondary), cognitive load, discriminant analysis, multivariate analysis of variance, quantitative research, talking aloud, cognitive style, individual differences, problem solving, senior secondary mathematics, worked exAMPLE, thesis, doctoral
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Terry Dwyer
Deposited On: 22 Sep 2010 13:05
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2016 05:29

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page