In my cognitive psychology course at USF, we are learning about the concept of Self Explanation. In a lecture, my professor referenced a key difference between good learners and poor learners as being tied to self-regulation or self-monitoring (and not ability, motivation, time on task, etc.). While shocking, it seems reasonable to me that there would be such a disparity between ability to recognize comprehension failure between the poor learners (42%) and the good learners (86%). With my own students, the biggest obstacle I have with struggling readers is teaching them how to recognize when they are lost in the reading, which my teacher gut tells me is directly tied into their self-concept. The paradox is that if a student believes he is dumb, he is even less likely to express that he is confused or lost, making him less likely to get un-stuck. Yet, students who are perceived as “smart” are the ones who are most willing to acknowledge comprehension failures, and thus have the opportunity to repair meaning.
So, here's what I'm thinking: Providing students with a cognitive model to walk them through a challenge -- like closely reading a passage -- should reduce their extraneous load by helping them decode, hear, and make sense of the plot. With the hard work of surface level text comprehension out of the way, I should be able to help students focus on the deeper-level thinking. As I thought about how I would present the worked example of reading, I started pondering the self-explanation format as a possibility. I know that ultimately, I want to increase the rate of self-explanation among my students (I’m thinking back to that massive gap in performance among good self-explainers and poor self-explainers). One way I could do this is by modeling self-explanations that demonstrate for students what a confident reader does when encountering a challenging text for the first time. Perhaps by demonstrating that I, too, have questions and areas of confusion, students will perhaps be more willing to embrace the practice for themselves.
What I'm reading:
- Ainsworth, S., & Loizou, A. T. (2003). The effects of self-explaining when learning with text or diagrams. Cognitive Science, 27(4), 669–681.
- Johnson, C., & Mayer, R. (2010). Applying the self-explanation principle to multimedia learning in a computer-based game-like environment. Computers in Human Behavior,26(6), 1246–1252. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2010.03.025.