Prior knowledge moderates instructional effects on conceptual understanding of statistics

J. Leppink, N.J. Broers, T. Imbos, C.P.M. van der Vleuten, M.P.F. Berger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study investigated the effects of different teaching and learning methods for statistics for 2 levels of prior knowledge on cognitive load, propositional knowledge, and conceptual understanding. Teaching methods were whether or not to provide students with propositional information, and learning strategies were self-explaining the learning material and explaining in pairs. The results indicate that prior knowledge facilitates propositional knowledge development and leads to differential effects of teaching and learning methods on conceptual understanding: only low prior knowledge students profit from additional information in the learning task and/or explaining in pairs. An implication of these findings is that low prior knowledge students should be guided into the subject matter by means of working in pairs on learning tasks that comprise additional information. Once students have developed more knowledge of the subject matter, they should be stimulated to work individually on learning tasks that do not comprise additional information.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-51
JournalEducational Research and Evaluation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

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