Is self-explanation while solving problems helpful? The case of analogical problem-solving

Yair Neuman, Baruch Schwarz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Background. Explanations people give themselves (or what are called self-explanations) while learning have been shown to be positively associated with various learning measures. However, the effect of self-explanation on analogical problem-solving has not been investigated. Aim. The aim of this study is to investigate the relation between self-explanation and analogical problem-solving. Sample. Twenty-four university students from the social science faculty. All the students were in their early twenties, 75 per cent of them being females. Method. The students were asked to solve three analytical reasoning problems (one learning problem and two test problems). The students were prompted either to self-explain or to think-aloud. During the problem-solving, verbal protocols were tape-recorded. Results. Students prompted to self-explain performed better in the test phase. The analysis of verbal protocols from good and poor solvers allowed us to identify four categories of self-explanation. Three categories were positively associated with analogical problem-solving. However, one category pertaining to the 'surface structure' of the problems studied had detrimental effects on further problem-solving. Conclusions. In contrast to previous findings, only certain kinds of self-explanations improve analogical problem-solving. We suggest, therefore, that the role of certain self-explanation is to support better the representation of solution schemes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-24
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes


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