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Explanation Effects

Explanations consist of causal analyses of events, logical justifications of claims, and functional rationales for actions. Explanations provide coherence to the material and justify why information is relevant and important. Students may be prompted to give self-explanations of the material through think aloud protocols or questioning tasks that elicit explanations that connect the material to what they already know. Self-explanations and the activity of studying good explanations facilitate deeper comprehension, learning, memory, and transfer.    
  • Implications
    • Teachers and learning environments should deliver good explanations of ideas and elicit self-explanations from the learner. These explanations promote deeper learning of complex mechanisms, causal and functional analyses, links between claims and evidence, and logical reasoning.    
  • References
    • Ainsworth, S., & Loizou, A.T. (2003).  The effects of self explaining when learning with texts or diagrams. Cognitive Science, 27, 669-681.
    • Beck, I.L., McKeown, M.G., Hamilton, R.L., & Kucan, L. (1997).  Questioning the Author: An approach for enhancing student engagement with text.  Delaware: International Reading Association.  
    • Chi, M. T. H., de Leeuw, N., Chiu, M., & LaVancher, C. (1994). Eliciting self-explanations improves understanding. Cognitive Science, 18, 439-477. 
    • Coté, N., Goldman, S., & Saul, E.U. (1998). Students making sense of informational text: Relations between processing and representation. Discourse Processes, 25, 1-53.
    • Magliano, J., Trabasso, T., & Graesser, A.C. (1999).  Strategic processing during comprehension.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 91, 615-629.
    • McNamara, D.S. (2004). SERT: Self-explanation reading training.  Discourse Processes, 38, 1-30.