Keynote Tamara van Gog

Exemplary learning

Tamara van Gog, Erasmus University Rotterdam,

member of ‘The Young Academy’ (KNAW)




"It is the true nature of mankind to learn from mistakes, not from example" said the English astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle. Educational practitioners (i.e., teachers, policy makers, developers of instructional materials) seem to agree with him, as 'learning by doing' is increasingly emphasized at all levels of contemporary education. However, a large body of research that has been accumulating since the 1980's has demonstrated exactly the opposite: novice learners, who do not have prior knowledge about a topic, learn much more from studying worked examples (i.e., problems with a worked-out solution) than from solving problems (and making mistakes doing so). In this presentation I will discuss the theoretical background and main findings from research on example-based learning and present some recent studies we conducted.