Development and Evaluation of Experiment-supported Worked-examples to Foster Scientific Inquiry

Universitat of Duisburg-Essen, Germany 

Supervisor: Elke Sumfleth, Markus Emden

Email: Jenna.koenen AT


International studies like PISA show that German students lack knowledge in the domain of scientific inquiry, although scientific inquiry is an important part of international science education standards for secondary schools. Due to these results, many schools in Germany change their lesson plans. Additional lessons often take place in learning times, which are devoted to individual learning. Therefore, there is a need for learning material, which enhances knowledge in the domain of scientific inquiry and is also suited for self-regulated learning.

The aim of the described studies is to develop learning materials composed of worked-examples to foster scientific inquiry because worked-examples allow for individual learning. Worked-examples are tasks that contain a problem and its solution. Worked-examples are commonly used in algorithmic domains like mathematics and physics. In recent years, worked-examples have extended to non-algorithmic learning domains. These kinds of worked-examples often involve two content levels, the learning domain and the exemplifying domain, which unavoidably adds complexity to the worked-example. The developed worked-examples are double-content examples because they contain elements of scientific inquiry on the learning domain and chemical content knowledge on the exemplifying domain. Since the experiment is an important part of scientific inquiry the worked-examples are integrated with hands-on experiments. The combination of the worked-example with the experiment is termed experiment-supported worked-example. To further enhance the worked-examples, metacognitive prompts were added. Metacognitive prompts are additional learning hints which support students in a non-directive way. They encourage students to use already available skills and abilities.

The reported studies also aim at developing and evaluating these learning materials. Three different evaluation studies are conducted: two quantitative studies and one interview-study. The results of these studies are used for further material development. In the course of this process, several significant changes were made, e.g. fading procedures were dropped and learning and exemplifying domain content-levels were further integrated into each other.

The latest version of the material was implemented with 6th grade students (N = 285) over a period of five weeks in German secondary schools. Data were collected in a pre-, post-, follow up-design using different test instruments and questionnaires (e.g., knowledge about scientific inquiry, content knowledge, reading abilities, cognitive abilities, interest). Results show that different kinds of learning materials function differently depending on students’ expertise. Repeated measures ANCOVA controlling for prior knowledge and reading abilities shows significant differences between the learning materials regarding learning achievement in the domain of scientific inquiry depending on the level of prior knowledge. According to these analyses, worked-examples fit the needs of students with low prior knowledge but are not very efficient for students with high prior knowledge. This findings match findings from other domains regarding worked-examples. In comparison, experimental problem solving tasks seem to fit both kinds of students.

 Publications related to the dissertation 

Koenen, J., Emden, M., & Sumfleth, E. (2015). Experimentsupported Worked-Examples as a Basis to Foster Scientific Inquiry. Retrieved from

Saenger, J., Emden, M., & Sumfleth, E. (2014). Development of worked-examples enhancing scientific inquiry. In C. P. Constantinou, N. Papadouris & A. Hadjigeorgiou (Hrsg.), E-Book Proceedings of the ESERA 2013 Conference: Science Education Research For Evidence-based Teaching and Coherence in Learning. Part 2 (Co-Hrsg. Lavonen, J. & Zeyer, A.), (S. 107-114) Nicosia, Cyprus: European Science Education Research Association. ISBN: 978-9963-700-77-6

Sänger, J., Emden, M., & Sumfleth, E. (2013). Fostering Scientific Inquiry with Experimental Worked Examples. Paper Presentation at National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST). Puerto Rico, USA, 2013, April 06. – April 09.

Thesis full reference

Koenen, J. (2014). Entwicklung und Evaluation von experimentunterstützten Lösungsbeispielen zur Förderung naturwissenschaftlich-experimenteller Arbeitsweisen. Development and Evaluation of Experiment-supported Worked-examples to Foster Scientific Inquiry.Studien zum Physik- und Chemielernen: Vol. 171. Berlin: Logos.

Doctoral Committee: Elke Sumfleth, Maik Walpuski, Matthias Epple


Jenna Koenen

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Chemistry Education

Brook-Taylor-Str. 2

12489 Berlin, Germany

Email: Jenna.koenen AT

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