Eliciting Self‐Explanations Improves Understanding

Eliciting Self‐Explanations Improves Understanding Learning involves the integration of new information into existing knowledge. Generating explanations to oneself (self‐explaining) facilitates that integration process. Previously, self‐explanation has been shown to improve the acquisition of problem‐solving skills when studying worked‐out examples. This study extends that finding, showing that self‐explanation can also be facilitative when it is explicitly promoted, in the context of learning declarative knowledge from an expository text. Without any extensive training, 14 eighth‐grade students were merely asked to self‐explain after reading each line of a passage on the human circulatory system. Ten students in the control group read the same text twice, but were not prompted to self‐explain. All of the students were tested for their circulatory system knowledge before and after reading the text. The prompted group had a greater gain from the pretest to the posttest. Moreover, prompted students who generated a large number of self‐explanations (the high explainers) learned with greater understanding than low explainers. Understanding was assessed by answering very complex questions and inducing the function of a component when it was only implicitly stated. Understanding was further captured by a mental model analysis of the self‐explanation protocols. High explainers all achieved the correct mental model of the circulatory system, whereas many of the unprompted students as well as the low explainers did not. Three processing characteristics of self‐explaining are considered as reasons for the gains in deeper understanding. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Cognitive Science - A Multidisciplinary Journal Wiley

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
© 1994 Cognitive Science Society, Inc.
ISSN
0364-0213
eISSN
1551-6709
DOI
10.1207/s15516709cog1803_3
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Learning involves the integration of new information into existing knowledge. Generating explanations to oneself (self‐explaining) facilitates that integration process. Previously, self‐explanation has been shown to improve the acquisition of problem‐solving skills when studying worked‐out examples. This study extends that finding, showing that self‐explanation can also be facilitative when it is explicitly promoted, in the context of learning declarative knowledge from an expository text. Without any extensive training, 14 eighth‐grade students were merely asked to self‐explain after reading each line of a passage on the human circulatory system. Ten students in the control group read the same text twice, but were not prompted to self‐explain. All of the students were tested for their circulatory system knowledge before and after reading the text. The prompted group had a greater gain from the pretest to the posttest. Moreover, prompted students who generated a large number of self‐explanations (the high explainers) learned with greater understanding than low explainers. Understanding was assessed by answering very complex questions and inducing the function of a component when it was only implicitly stated. Understanding was further captured by a mental model analysis of the self‐explanation protocols. High explainers all achieved the correct mental model of the circulatory system, whereas many of the unprompted students as well as the low explainers did not. Three processing characteristics of self‐explaining are considered as reasons for the gains in deeper understanding.

Journal

Cognitive Science - A Multidisciplinary JournalWiley

Published: Jul 1, 1994

References

  • Self‐explanations: How students study and use examples in learning to solve problems
    Chi, Chi; Bassok, Bassok; Lewis, Lewis; Reimann, Reimann; Glaser, Glaser
  • Social interaction and the development of cognitive operations
    Doise, Doise; Mugny, Mugny; Perret‐Clermont, Perret‐Clermont
  • Dual space search during scientific reasoning
    Klahr, Klahr; Dunbar, Dunbar

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