Research Bites – Worked Examples

11 January 2018

What are they?

  • Put simply, a worked example is a completed (or partly completed) problem that students can see and refer to while they are working on a similar problem.

What does the evidence tell us?

  • Worked examples allow students to concentrate on the specific steps they need to follow to solve a problem. They are effective because they reduce the cognitive load of a task which means that students do not have to much to hold too much new information in their working memory. Worked examples have been shown to be especially effective when problem-solving tasks involve a number of complex elements. Worked examples should be gradually faded away so that problems are eventually solved independently.

How can teachers mobilise the evidence?

  • Create a completed answer to a problem. Clearly label and explain the steps that have been taken to solve the problem. Provide students with a similar problem and have them solve it using the same procedure.


  • Model written products with/for students on the board. Explain your thought processes out loud. Ask students to produce a similar piece of writing – using the model to guide their thinking.

Further information

Putting students on the path to learning: the case for fully guided instruction.

Greg Ashman on worked examples.

The relationship between the worked example effect and the generation effect.


Posted on 11 January 2018
Posted in: Blog, Evidence
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