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Background and Context: Subgoal labeled worked examples are effective for teaching computing concepts, but the research to date has been reported in a piecemeal fashion. This paper aggregates data from three studies, including data that has not been previously reported upon, to examine more holistically the effect of subgoal labeled worked examples across three student populations and across different instructional designs.

Objective: By aggregating the data, we provide more statistical and explanatory power for somewhat surprising yet replicable results. We discuss which results generalize across populations, focusing on a stable effect size to be expected when using subgoal labels in programming instruction.

Method: We use descriptive and inferential statistics to examine the data for the effect of subgoal labeled worked examples across different student populations and different classroom instructional designs. We specifically concentrate on the potential effect size across samples of the intervention for potential generalization.

Findings: Two groups of students learning how to write loops using subgoal labeled instructional materials perform better than the others. The better performing groups were the group that was given the subgoal labels with farther transfer between worked examples and practice problems and the group that constructed their own subgoal labels with nearer transfer between worked examples and practice problems, both with medium-large effect sizes.

Implications: For educators wishing to improve student learning using subgoal labeled materials should either provide students with subgoal labels while having them practice with a wide range of practice problems or allow students to generate their own subgoal labels and practice problems within similar contexts.


Author accepted manuscript version of an article published by Taylor & Francis in

Morrison, B. B., Margulieux, L. E., & Decker, A. (2020). The curious case of loops. Computer Science Education, 30(2), 127-154.