This event-related fMRI study investigated the differences between learning from examples and learning from verbal directions in mathematical problem solving and how these instruction types affect the activity of relevant brain regions during instruction and solution periods within problem-solving trials. We identified distinct neural signatures during the instruction period of trials. While studying examples, greater activation was found in the prefrontal and parietal regions that were known to be involved in mathematical problem solving. In contrast, while studying verbal directions, increased activation was found in motor and visual regions. These differences, however, disappeared during the solution period. During the solution period, participants showed brain activation patterns like those they displayed while studying an example, regardless of which instruction they learned from. The results suggest instruction type becomes irrelevant after students get to an understanding. Educational implications were discussed with regard to example-based instruction.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience