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Title page for ETD etd-03212012-103710

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Fyfe, Emily Ruth
Author's Email Address emily.r.fyfe@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-03212012-103710
Title The Effects of Feedback During Exploratory Mathematics Problem Solving: Prior Knowledge Matters
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Bethany Rittle-Johnson Committee Member
Bruce McCandliss Committee Member
  • guided discovery
  • feedback
  • expertise reversal effect
  • mathematical equivalence
Date of Defense 2012-03-20
Availability unrestricted
Providing exploratory activities prior to direct instruction can facilitate learning. However, the level of guidance provided during the exploratory activity has largely gone unstudied. In this paper, I examined the effects of one form of guidance, feedback, during exploratory mathematics problem solving for children with varying levels of prior domain knowledge. In two experiments, second- and third-grade children solved 12 novel mathematical equivalence problems and then received brief conceptual instruction. After solving each problem, they received (a) no-feedback, (b) outcome-feedback, or (c) strategy-feedback. In both experiments, prior knowledge moderated the impact of feedback on children’s learning. For children with lower prior knowledge, feedback during exploration improved their procedural knowledge. But, for children with higher prior knowledge, no feedback resulted in better procedural knowledge. This potential expertise reversal effect indicates that theories of learning need to incorporate the role of prior knowledge and that providing feedback may not always be optimal.
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