Self-explanation or the process of explaining a concept to yourself is one of the most powerful ways of learning. When you prompt a student to explain a concept to themselves, they are both creating inferential links to concepts and prior knowledge and discovering what they don’t know about the concept. One of the biggest failures students experience is this lack of knowledge about what they don’t know. Studies of able learners have demonstrated that these students are often asking themselves questions about material they are learning or reviewing and checking their understanding. A great way of supporting a student to become more able is to prompt them to self-explain a new concept. A key point is that when students narrate how well they think they understand a new concept they don’t add to their actual understanding. Students need to explain the concept to themselves.
For further information on the research behind this concept and more details please check this link.
Robyn Stead, Child Psychologist and Educator, lives and works in central Auckland.