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Previous studies have shown that learning from worked examples is superior to unsupported problem solving. Examples reduce the cognitive load on the learner’s working memory, thus helping the student to learn faster or deal with more complex problems. Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS) support problem solving in many ways, adaptive feedback being one of them. Only recently researchers started comparing worked examples with ITSs, and several studies show the worked examples result in faster learning. We conducted a study to investigate the effects of studying Examples Only (EO) in comparison with Problems Only (PO) and Alternating Examples/Problems (AEP). Our results show that, in contrast to prior studies, learning solely from examples is not as effective as solving problems or a mixture of examples and problems. In our study, novices learned most from AEP, but advanced students learned the same from AEP and PO. Novices and advanced students learned less from EO than AEP and PO. Therefore, interleaving examples with supported problem solving is an optimal choice compared to using examples or supported problems only in SQL-Tutor.
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