The self-explanation effect has been studied since the 1980s, and has been examined in many disciplines, e.g. chemistry, biology, mathematics and nursing, among others. Self-explanations help the learner integrate new knowledge with existing knowledge, and can allow the learner to update and refine existing mental models.
Self-explanation has been shown to improve the acquisition of problem-solving skills when studying worked-out examples. Self-explanation, when explicitly encouraged or required can also facilitate the learning of declarative knowledge from an expository text.
By self-explaining, students may become more aware of the actual level of their understanding – and may provide students with key information about areas of confusion and/or understanding.
-J. Rankin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Banning, M. (2008). The think aloud approach as an educational tool to develop and assess clinical reasoning in undergraduate students. Nurse Education Today, 28, 8-14. http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/Faculty-Development/MediaLibraries/Faculty-Development/Media/PDF/Think-Aloud-Technique.pdf
- Steif, P.; Lobue, J.M.; Kara, L.B.; Fay, A.L. (2010). Improving Problem Solving Performance by Inducing Talk about Salient Problem Features. Journal of Engineering Educations, April, 135-142 http://andrew.cmu.edu/user/steif/papers/JEE.ROLE%202010.Steif-Lobue-Fay-Kara.pdf
- Chi, M. T. H. (2000). Self-explaining: The dual processes of generating inference and repairing mental models. In R. Glaser (Ed.), Advances in instructional psychology: Educational design and cognitive science (Vol. 5, pp. 161-238). http://alumni.media.mit.edu/~bsmith/courses/mas964/readings/Glaser.pdf
- Chi, M. T. H., Bassok, M., Lewis, M. W., Reimann, P., & Glaser, R. (1989). Self-explanations: How students study and use examples in learning to solve problems. Cognitive Science, 13(2), 145-182. http://chilab.asu.edu/papers/ChiBassokLewisReimannGlaser.pdf
- Wylie, R.; Koedinger, K.R.; Mitamura, T. (2009). Is Self-Explanation Always Better? The Effects of Adding Self-Explanation Prompts to an English Grammar Tutor. Presented at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. http://csjarchive.cogsci.rpi.edu/proceedings/2009/papers/292/paper292.pdf