According to meta-analysis of 64 studies, published in Educational Psychology Review, self-explanation is a powerful strategy for learning. Self-explanation is what is sounds like: explaining things to yourself, “talking to yourself,” or “putting something in your own words.” People “generate inferences about causal connections and conceptual relationships that enhance understanding,” using self-explanation.
Self-explanation was better than instructor explanation, but instructor explanation was better than no explanation, which suggests the benefit of self-explanation comes from generating an explanation oneself.
Research has already established that ‘more effective learners’ are more inclined to self-explain, but this new analysis confirms self-explanation can be beneficial for people who would not normally use it as a learning tool if they are asked to use it. Researchers found that when students are asked to self-explain it improves learning outcomes similar in effectiveness to “mastery learning” and “peer tutoring.”