This article reports experimental work comparing exploration and worked-examples practice in learning to use a database program. Exploration practice is based on discovery learning principles, whereas a heavy use of worked examples was hypothesized to lead to more effective processing by reducing extraneous mental load. Students with no previous domain familiarity with databases were found to substantially benefit from worked examples in comparison to exploration. However, if students had previous familiarity with the database domain, the type of practice made no significant difference to their learning because the exploration students were able to draw on existing, well-developed domain schemas to guide their exploration.
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