In Pursuit of Knowledge: Comparing Self-Explanations, Concepts, and Procedures as Pedagogical Tools
Matthews, Percival Grant
Explaining new ideas to oneself can promote learning and transfer, but how and when such self-explanations are effective is unclear. This study investigated how instruction on concepts versus procedures affected the quality of self-explanations and subsequent learning outcomes for 2nd through 5th grade children when solving math equivalence problems (e.g. 7+3+9=7+_). Experiment 1 varied whether instruction was conceptual or procedural in nature, and Experiment 2 varied whether children were prompted to self-explain after conceptual instruction. Conceptual instruction led to higher quality explanations, greater conceptual knowledge gains and similar procedural knowledge gains compared to procedural instruction. No effect was found for the self-explanation manipulation. Results suggest conceptual instruction can be more efficient than procedural instruction and may improve knowledge enough to make self-explanation unnecessary.