I'm a PhD student in physics, and I sometimes tutor undergrads in introductory physics classes on the side. Now, there's widespread agreement among people who teach or tutor physics that the only way to effectively learn the material is to use it, generally by working through practice problems in homework assignments and sample exams.
But recently I was contacted by a student who was interested in "tutoring," where by use of the quotes I mean that what she wanted was for me to do problems, and she would watch and ask questions when she was confused about something. At one point this student wrote a long email full of what seemed like psychological mumbo-jumbo trying to justify her assertion that she actually learns that way, and that the normal method of having her do the work would not be effective. I didn't believe it (thus I declined the tutoring assignment), but was I wrong? Are there actually students who don't learn by doing the work, and for whom it is a more effective strategy to just show them how to go through a problem? I would definitely appreciate pointers to educational psychology research on the matter, if anyone knows of any.
Note that I'm not talking about how to teach a topic for the first time, to a group of students who have never seen it before. In that case I know a bit of demonstration is necessary. The situation I'm asking about is reviewing for a final exam, where the student would (or should) have already learned the material in class and completed a homework assignment or two on it.