Hausmann, van de Sande, VanLehn - arxiv.org 2008

Are Self-explaining and Coached Problem Solving More Effective When Done by Pairs of Students Than Alone?

Robert G.M. Hausmann, Brett van de Sande, Kurt VanLehn

Although cognitive science has discovered several methods for increasing the learning of complex skills, such as physics problem solving, detailed examination of verbal protocols suggests there is still room for improvement. Basically, students do not always apply the meta-cognitive strategies that the instruction invites. For instance, when prompted to self-explain, students may still choose to not explain. We conjecture that most students know which meta-cognitive strategies are good and bad. When they work in pairs, they are more likely to choose the good strategies. We hypothesize that social accountability improves meta-cognitive strategy choice, which thereby improves learning. Our experiment compared individuals and pairs learning from state-of-the-art instruction. The results suggest that the dyads solved more problems and requested fewer hints during problem solving than individuals. We also discovered a new form of self-explanation, wherein students generate explanations to account for the differences between their solutions and the instructor's.

Submitted to the Proceedings of the 30th Annual Cognitive Science Society (p. 744). Washington DC: Cognitive Science Society