Examining the design and impact of adaptively faded worked examples on high school students’ mathematics problem solving skills
Flores, Raymond A.
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Despite extensive research and national reform efforts, studies have found that many students continue to struggle with problem solving and that mathematics educators continue to experience difficulties teaching students important problem solving skills. In order to improve student word problem solving abilities, an adaptive problem solving tutorial was designed and developed by combining research based instructional guidelines proposed by Cognitive Load Theory (CLT), the Four-Component Instructional Design (4C/ID) model, mathematics problem solving education, and intelligent tutoring systems (ITS) methods. The developed tutorial individualized mathematics instruction by adapting the design of worked examples based on student proficiency on key problem solving skills which research has identified as crucial for solving mathematics word problems. This study was conducted at a small rural independent school district in the southwestern area of the United States. Participants included 35 K-12 students who were enrolled in high school mathematics courses. Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative data analysis two main research questions were investigated. The first sought to examine student’ and teacher’ perceptions of the problem solving tutorial; and the second examined learning outcome differences between an adaptively faded and a non-adaptive worked example tutorial design. Results indicated that overall students were pleased with tutorial in terms of ease of learning, tutorial quality, engagement, overall rating, visual design, content presentation, feedback, and adaptivity. However, while students with lower pretest scores liked the step-by-step structure/guidance provided to them, those with higher pretest scores did not. Teachers felt that the tutorial could be very effective for students who have difficulty with coming up with a plan to solve algebra word problems. In addition, teachers liked that instruction was individualized based on student proficiency levels and that the tutorial required students to check their answers and procedures. In regard to student learning outcomes, no significant differences in perceived cognitive load and student achievement were found when comparing the two tutorial designs. However, a significant difference was found with tutorial completion time.