Publication Details

Sweller, J., Ayres, P. L., Kalyuga, S. & Chandler, P. A. (2003). The expertise reversal effect. Educational Psychologist, 38 (1), 23-31.


When new information is presented to learners, it must be processed in a severely limited working memory. Learning reduces working memory limitations by enabling the use of schemas, stored in long-term memory, to process information more efficiently. Several instructional techniques have been designed to facilitate schema construction and automation by reducing working memory load. Recently, however, strong evidence has emerged that the effectiveness of these techniques depends very much on levels of learner expertise. Instructional techniques that are highly effective with inexperienced learners can lose their effectiveness and even have negative consequences when used with more experienced learners. We call this phenomenon the expertise reversal effect. In this article, we review the empirical literature on the interaction between instructional techniques and levels of learner experience that led to the identification of the expertise reversal effect.

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