Use worked examples (step-by-step demonstrations of how to perform a task) to introduce new problem solving skills to students.

  • The effectiveness of worked examples as a learning tool is well-documented in education research literature.
  • As students become more skilled, the benefits of worked examples are reduced and students may be better off with less-guided forms of instruction.
  • When developing or presenting a worked example:
    • Direct students’ attention both to each step required to solve the problem and to what the problem looks like after each step. That is, emphasize both the steps you take and the result of each step in your worked example.
    • Keep all elements of the worked example together so that students are not required to split their attention between, for example, a list of problem-solving steps on one page and an illustration on another page.
    • Exclude information - including explanations - that is not necessary for solving the problem. It can be tempting to elaborate at length on the justification for each step in the example, but long explanations can confuse or distract students.
  • For a sample worked example in computer science, and a description of some relevant research on worked examples, see "Worked Examples in Computer Science".
  • For another worked example for computer science in a middle-school-level Scratch course, check out these PowerPoint slides from a lesson on teaching students how to draw with variables in Scratch.