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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Self-Explanation of Worked Examples Integrated in an Intelligent Tutoring System Enhances Problem Solving and Efficiency in Algebra


One pedagogical technique that promotes conceptual understanding in mathematics learners is self-explanation integrated with worked examples (e.g., Rittle-Johnson et al., 2017). In this work, we implemented self-explanations with worked examples (correct and erroneous) in a software-based Intelligent Tutoring System (ITS) for learning algebra. We developed an approach to eliciting self-explanations in which the ITS guided students to select explanations that were conceptually rich in nature. Students who used the ITS with self-explanations scored higher on a posttest that included items tapping both conceptual and procedural knowledge than did students who used a version of the ITS that included only traditional problem-solving practice. This study replicates previous findings that self-explanation and worked examples in an ITS can foster algebra learning (Booth et al., 2013). Further, this study extends prior work to show that guiding students towards conceptual explanations is beneficial.

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