Effects of problem–example and example–problem pairs on gifted and nongifted primary school students’ learning

Leonora C. Coppens, Vincent Hoogerheide, Elleke M. Snippe, Barbara Flunger, Tamara van Gog

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Example-based learning (i.e., studying examples to learn a problem–solution procedure, often alternated with solving practice problems) leads to better learning outcomes than solving practice problems only, and video examples are increasingly being used in online and blended learning environments. Recent findings show that the presentation order of examples and problems affects learning: Example–problem pairs have been found to be more effective than problem–example pairs. We investigated a motivational explanation for this difference, which states that starting with a practice problem might be too difficult, causing learners to lose confidence and motivation to study. We investigated this by presenting gifted (n = 61) and nongifted primary school students (n = 65) with two problem–example or example–problem pairs. We hypothesized that gifted students, who generally report higher perceived competence and autonomy and higher need for cognition, would be less affected by the difficulty of starting with a problem. As expected, gifted students indeed reported higher motivation and confidence than nongifted students, and gifted students were more efficient learners. In contrast to our expectations, however, there was no difference between gifted and nongifted students in the effect of the different task sequences on test performance. Studying example–problem pairs was more efficient than studying problem–example pairs, both for gifted and nongifted students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-297
Number of pages19
JournalInstructional Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Example-based learning
  • Gifted children
  • Instructional design
  • Motivation
  • Primary school students


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