Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


STEM Education & Professional Studies


Instructional Design & Technology

Committee Director

Gary Morrison

Committee Director

Amy Adcock

Committee Member

Shana Pribesh


The worked-example effect, an application of cognitive load theory, is a well-supported method of instruction for well-structured problems (Chandler and Sweller, 1991; Cooper and Sweller, 1987; Sweller and Cooper, 1985; Tuovinen & Sweller, 1999; Ward and Sweller, 1990). One limitation is expertise-reversal effect, where advanced students perform less well when exposed to worked examples than when exposed to traditional problem solving (Kalyuga, Ayres, Chandler, & Sweller, 2003; Kalyuga, Chandler, & Sweller, 1998; Kalyuga, Chandler, Tuovinen, & Sweller, 2001). A possible alternative to the worked-example approach is the fading example, designed to transition intermediate students to solving well-structured problems without assistance (Renkl, Atkinson & Grobe, 2004). This study showed that studying worked examples was more effect than solving problems or completing fading examples when learning to form search queries for library databases, an ill-structured problem-solving environment. In addition, participants within the worked-example group with low, intermediate and high levels of domain-specific knowledge achieved parity. Within the traditional problem-solving group, those with low domain-specific knowledge performed less well than those with high domain-specific knowledge.