Masters Thesis

Challenges in creating and implementing a unit on proofs and quadrilaterals based on worked examples principles

The concept of a worked example is simple. It is an expert’s problem solving strategy that students use to study and learn. Previous research has repeatedly shown that using worked examples in the classroom can drive student learning in many content domains. Effective worked examples vary in structure depending on the learning goal. Some examples are created for students to study to learn about the process used in solving a problem, while others require students to complete missing steps or justifications in the problem solving process. This study explored the effectiveness of a unit based on the principles of worked examples to introduce and teach proofs to high school geometry students. In creating the unit, research was conducted into cognitive load theory and the principles of effective worked examples. Students’ posttest scores were used to determine if students learned better with the worked examples unit when compared to students who learned the same material through a traditional teaching method. Student surveys were used to determine if the worked example unit improved students’ self-confidence in math class. It was found that the unit did not improve student posttest scores or alter their self-confidence. While the unit was shown to be ineffective, this study gives insight into how a practicing teacher can apply the research on worked examples principles to make reasonable changes to their classroom materials and instruction methods with the aim of improving students’ understanding of geometric proofs.