Best Practice

Using worked examples: From teaching to learning

Task design is a crucial element of teaching if we are to consolidate learning and encourage independence. In the first of two articles, Robbie Burns looks at making worked examples effective, pulling out vital pedagogical elements

Mary Myatt writes about a joke concerning two men in a bar. One says: “I’ve taught my dog to speak French.” “Really?” says his friend, “let’s hear him then.”

“I said I taught him – I didn’t say he’d learnt it,” comes the response.

Herein lies a profound pedagogical truth: despite our enormous efforts, learning does not naturally follow teaching.

As teachers, we cannot define our success merely by the clarity of our instruction or exposition of a concept or process; we also cannot jump straight from instruction to students independently applying their knowledge to a task that will consolidate their learning. This very often fails. Therefore, we need to structure practice in a way that enables them to succeed.

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