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When Instructional Guidance is Needed

  • Ouhao Chen (a1), Slava Kalyuga (a2) and John Sweller (a2)


Studying worked examples providing problem solutions to learners usually leads to better test performance than solving the equivalent problems without guidance, demonstrating the worked-example effect. The generation effect occurs when learners who generate answers without guidance learn better than those who read answers that provide guidance. The contradiction between these results can be hypothesised to be due to differences in the element interactivity of the learning tasks. Primary school students in Year 6 participated in the experiment, which investigated the hypothesis by using geometry materials. A disordinal interaction was obtained between levels of guidance and levels of element interactivity. Higher levels of guidance facilitated learning using high element interactivity information, while lower levels of guidance facilitated learning for low element interactivity information. Cognitive load theory was used to explain these contrasting results. From an educational perspective, it was suggested that when determining levels of guidance, a consideration of element interactivity is essential.

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Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Ouhao Chen, School of Education, Southern Cross University, Military Road, East Lismore NSW 2480, Australia. E-mail:


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