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  1. Learning to solve legal cases: The effects of instructional support Fleurie NievelsteinTamara van GogGijs van Dijck*Els BoshuizenOpen University of the Netherlands*Faculty of law, Tilburg University

  2. Reasoning about cases complex skill: • Domain complexity - Interpretation legal concepts - Using external sources / knowledge about the structure - Adversarial reasoning - High number of non routine task aspects • Students’ knowledge structures Problematic for preferred instructional method: ‘learning by doing’

  3. Is ‘learning by doing’ effective for learning ? Previous research suggests high cognitive load caused by: • Incomplete conceptual knowledge • Search process (Nievelstein, Van Gog, Boshuizen, & Prins, 2008; in press)

  4. Instructional support • Optimize cognitive load; more capacity for processes effective for learning - focus on important task aspects - trying to understand the underlying legal framework - intention to improve reasoning performance • Cognitive load is measured by the mental effort scale

  5. Experiment 1 79 first-year law students Tilburg University • Pre-test • 2 Training cases • 1 Test case • Mental effort

  6. Experiment 1

  7. Results reasoning on test • Support by condensed civil code during training leads to sig. better performance on the reasoning test than students not supported with the condensed civil code • No interaction effects • No effects on mental effort • Higher efficiency • Lot of room for improvement…!

  8. Performance test Max 100 points

  9. Experiment 2 • 75 first-year students & 36 third-year students • Pre-test • 2 Training cases • 1 Test case • Complete civil code • Mental effort

  10. Experiment 2

  11. Results experiment 2 • Support by worked examples during the training phase leads to significant better results on reasoning during the test • Applies for both, first-year and third-year students! No expertise reversal effect!

  12. Performance test first-year students Max 100 points

  13. Comparing first-year students exp. 1 and 2 Max 100 points

  14. Performance test third-year students Max 100 points

  15. Mental effort • Students who studied worked examples reported less mental effort (during learning) than students who solved the case with no support or problem steps • No differences on mental effort reported on the test, but.... • Studying examples leads to higher performance

  16. Practical / Theoretical implications • Support by worked examples improves learning • Higher efficiency • No expertise reversal effect; probably due to the domain complexity

  17. Thank you for your attention Questions, remarks?? Fleurie Nievelstein Fleurie.Nievelstein@ou.nl