Using the computer as a help tool during learning by doing

Jan J. Elshout, Marcel V.J. Veenman, Janet G. Van Hell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to determine the extent to which students are capable of using computerized help tools while learning to solve thermodynamics problems, in relation to their prior knowledge and intellectual ability. University students could voluntarily consult a facility with various levels of help that incorporated a systematic problem-solving approach. Think-aloud protocols were analysed on the quality of help usage and on the effectiveness of help as indicated by adoption of the Systematic Approach to Problem-solving. These measures of help usage were related to learning outcomes and student characteristics (level of expertise and intellectual ability). The results show that advanced subjects and relatively high-intelligent novices are quite capable of using the computer as a help tool. However, relatively low-intelligent novices evidently need direction in choosing the appropriate help.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-122
Number of pages8
JournalComputers and Education
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Education


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