The effects of varying levels of support through worked examples on achievement in software application training
Fulgham, Susan M.
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The purpose of this study was to determine how the level of instructional support typified by varying the presentation of the worked example (full, partial, or minimal) effect the achievement of undergraduate students learning from a software application training module. The three levels of instructional support, presented as worked examples, were used to “scaffold” two lessons on Microsoft Access. The fully worked example was a visual walk-through presentation, the partial worked example was a “point and click” interactive presentation, and the minimal worked example was a textual worked example that required working with the actual product. Dependent variables were performance scores (two practice exercises and one achievement test) and cognitive load was measured by mental effort ratings and efficiency scores. To avoid prior knowledge effects, prior knowledge of the Microsoft Access product derived from a survey question was used as a covariate. Data was collected from 57 participants who were enrolled in an undergraduate computer literacy course. Data was analyzed by multivariate analyses of covariance (MANCOVA) and follow-up analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) where significance was indicated. Results of the study showed the minimal worked example group did significantly better on the achievement test, without loss of time, and were more efficient than the full or partial worked example groups. Cognitive load was reduced when using minimal worked examples which allow schemas to develop in long term memory. Future research on development of instruction which includes using the task pane of an application is recommended.