Subgoal labeled instructional text and worked examples in STEM education
Margulieux, Lauren Elizabeth
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In science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, problem solving tends to be highly procedural, and these procedures are typically taught with general instructional text and specific worked examples. Instructional text broadly defines procedures for problem solving, and worked examples demonstrate how to apply procedures to problems. Subgoal labels have been used to help students understand the structure of worked examples, and this feature has increased problem solving performance. The present study explored using subgoal labels in instructional text to further improve learners’ problem solving performance. A factorial design examined the efficacy of subgoal labeled instructional text and worked examples for programming education. The results of the present study suggest that subgoal labels in instructional text can help learners in a different way than subgoal labels in worked examples. Subgoal labels in text helped the learner articulate the general procedure better, and subgoal labels in the example helped the learner apply those procedures better. When solving novel problems, learners who received subgoal labels in both the text and example performed better than those who received subgoal labels in only the example. Learners who received subgoal labels in only the example performed better than those who received subgoal labels in only the text and those who did not receive subgoal labels at all. The present study indicates that subgoal labeled instructional text can improve novices’ problem solving performance in programming, but subgoal labels must appear in both the text and example.