Engaging learners in exploratory problem-solving activities prior to receiving instruction (i.e., explore-instruct approach) has been endorsed as an effective learning approach. However, it remains unclear whether this approach is feasible for elementary-school children in a classroom context. In two experiments, second-graders solved mathematical equivalence problems either before or after receiving brief conceptual instruction. In Experiment 1 (n = 41), the explore-instruct approach was less effective at supporting learning than an instruct-solve approach. However, it did not include a common, but often overlooked feature of an explore-instruct approach, which is provision of a knowledge-application activity after instruction. In Experiment 2 (n = 47), we included a knowledge-application activity by having all children check their answers on previously solved problems. The explore-instruct approach led to superior learning than an instruct-solve approach. Findings suggest promise for an explore-instruct approach, provided learners have the opportunity to apply knowledge from instruction.
Loehr, Abbey Marie; Fyfe, Emily R.; and Rittle-Johnson, Bethany
"Wait for it . . . Delaying Instruction Improves Mathematics Problem Solving: A Classroom Study,"
The Journal of Problem Solving:
1, Article 5.
Available at: http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/jps/vol7/iss1/5