Self-Explanation enhances knowledge access in geometry

Year: 1995

Author: Wong, Regina, Lawson, Michael

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The mere presence of knowledge in memory does not provide a guarantee that access and use of that knowledge will occur. This paper demonstrates the feasibility and effectiveness of training students in use of a self-explanation procedure that facilitates access and use of knowledge during problem solving. Year 9 mathematics students were individually observed as they engaged in the study of textbook material which presented a new theorem in geometry. The material in the study booklet was presented in small sections. Twenty-four students were assigned to a training group, in which students studied each section of the booklet using questions which prompted them to develop self-explanations. The questions stimulated them to access their prior knowledge, make connections between new information and existing knowledge and to identify features of the new material that were not understood. In a control group, 23 students studied the same booklet without use of these questions. As students studied this material, their talk and action were videotaped. The result clearly indicated performance differences between two groups. Training group students were trained to self-explain, they demonstrated. It also suggested that the effect of using self-explanation is specially powerful on far-transfer problems.