Individual, Family, and Community Education ETDs

Publication Date



The case-based instructional method uses fictionalized or actual narratives as instructional tools to support learning, decision-making, and improved transfer to practical settings. Educational theorists and researchers specializing in case-based instruction have suggested that cases can be made more realistic, engaging, and challenging, thus leading to better learning and decision-making by including richly contextualized details, adding distracters or irrelevant details, and increasing ambiguity (Kim, Philips, Pinsky, Brock, Phillips, & Keary, 2006). In contrast, research on human cognitive architecture suggests that including seductive details, details that are interesting but irrelevant to learning objectives, damages learning by reducing attention to relevant information, disrupting organizing within working memory, and by activating inappropriate schema, thus leading to ineffective integration of learning material into long-term memory (Harp & Mayer, 1998; Lehman, Schraw, McCrudden, & Hartley 2007). However, the effects of seductive details on learning has been tested almost exclusively in expository texts, and little is known about how seductive details affect learning when they are situated in narrative texts (Schraw, 1998). The current study investigates the role of seductive details on recall, transfer, and perceptions of authenticity, interest, and difficulty within the context of case-based narrative instruction for teacher education students. Teacher education students were assigned to one of three groups; learning from a classroom case containing seductive details (SD), learning from a classroom case with seductive details removed (NSD), or a control (C) group. A repeated measures ANOVA with group as the between subjects factor, and learning recall and learning transfer as the within subjects factors was conducted. In addition, three univariate ANOVAs were conducted to test group differences on each perceptual measure (perceptions of difficulty, authenticity, and interest). While no group differences on any of the perceptual measures were found, a significant group by learning measure interaction was found, with tetrad comparisons indicating that the NSD group differentially performed on the learning tests compared to the other two groups. Additional follow-up analyses indicated that the NSD group outperformed the SD group on learning transfer, suggesting that seductive details have a deleterious effect on learning application when used in case-based instruction.


Teachers--Training of, Case method--Study and teaching, Case-based reasoning, Problem-based learning

Document Type




Degree Name

Educational Psychology

Level of Degree


Department Name

Individual, Family, and Community Education

First Advisor

Parkes, Jay

First Committee Member (Chair)

Flowerday, Terri

Second Committee Member

Marley, Scott

Third Committee Member

McCarty, Teresita