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Title page for ETD etd-07212011-150818


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author McEldoon, Katherine Lindsay
Author's Email Address k.mceldoon@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-07212011-150818
Title Self-Explanation Worth The While: A Comparison Against Practice and Time on Task
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Bethany Rittle-Johnson Committee Chair
Bruce McCandliss Committee Member
Keywords
  • cognition
  • learning
  • mathematics
Date of Defense 2011-08-01
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
SELF-EXPLANATION WORTH THE WHILE: A COMPARISON AGAINST PRACTICE AND TIME ON TASK

KATHERINE L. McELDOON

Thesis under the direction of Professor Bethany Rittle-Johnson

Self-explanation, or generating explanations to oneself in an attempt to make sense of new information has been held up as a demonstrated method for promoting learning. The act of explaining requires additional time, and the learning benefits of this activity needs to be rigorously evaluated against alternate uses of this time, namely the activity of simply completing more practice problems. Practice has also been shown to be an effective learning activity. The current study investigated the effects of self-explanation when learning mathematical equivalence with two control conditions matched for the amount of time on task or the amount of practice. Understanding mathematical equivalence entails understanding that the equal sign means that two sides of an equation are the same, and is embodied in an ability to solve equations such as 4 + 2 +3 = ___ + 6 (McNeil, 2008). Seventy-five students in grades 2-4 worked through a tutoring session in one of three conditions: Self-Explain, Additional-Practice, and Control. Self-explanation prompts promoted conceptual knowledge relative to controls that received the same amount of practice and the same amount of time on task. There was no benefit of self-explanation prompts on procedural knowledge, although there was a suggestive trend of superior performance for self-explanation on procedural transfer items. These findings demonstrate that the act of self-explaining promotes learning above the general benefits of practice.

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