Individual differences in the preference for worked examples: lessons from an application of dispositional learning analytics

Dirk Tempelaar*, Bart Rienties, Quan Nguyen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Worked‐examples have been established as an effective instructional format in problem‐solving practices. However, less is known about variations in the use of worked examples across individuals at different stages in their learning process in student‐centred learning contexts. This study investigates different profiles of students’ learning behaviours based on clustering learning dispositions, prior knowledge, and the choice of feedback strategies in a naturalistic setting. The study was conducted on 1,072 students over an eight‐week long introductory mathematics course in a blended instructional format. While practising exercises in a digital learning environment, students can opt for tutored problem‐solving, untutored problem‐solving, or call worked examples. The results indicated six distinct profiles of learners regarding their feedback preferences in different learning phases. Finally, we investigated antecedents and consequences of these profiles and investigated the adequacy of used feedback strategies concerning ‘help‐abuse’. This research indicates that the use of instructional scaffolds as worked‐examples or hints and the efficiency of that use differs from student to student, making the attempt to find patterns at an overall level a hazardous endeavour.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Pages (from-to)890-905
Number of pages16
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date6 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2020


  • blended learning
  • dispositional learning analytics
  • multi-modal data
  • tutored problem-solving
  • untutored problem-solving
  • worked examples

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