Improving Programming Instruction with Subgoal Labeled Instructional Text

Lauren MargulieuxGeorgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Richard CatramboneGeorgia Institute of Technology


In science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, problem solving tends to be highly procedural, and these procedures are typically taught with general instructional text and specific worked examples. Subgoal labels have been used in worked examples to help learners understand the procedure being demonstrated and improve problem solving performance. The effect of subgoal labels in instructional text, however, has not been explored. The present study examined the efficacy of subgoal labeled instructional text and worked examples for programming education. The results show that learners who received subgoal labels in both the text and example are able to solve novel problems better than those who do not. Subgoal labels in the text appear to have a different effect, rather than an additive effect, on learners than subgoal labels in the example. Specifically, subgoal labels in text appear to help the learner articulate the procedure, and subgoal labels in the example appear to help the learner apply the procedure. Furthermore, having subgoal labels in both types of instruction might help learners integrate the information from those sources better.


Improving Programming Instruction with Subgoal Labeled Instructional Text (289 KB)

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