Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Cited by 106
  • Print publication year: 2002
  • Online publication date: September 2009

1 - Microgenetic studies of self-explanation

Summary

Microgenetic methods are useful for many purposes. They can yield more precise descriptions of cognitive change than would otherwise be possible, can reveal both similarities and dissimilarities in change processes across tasks and age groups, and can provide the type of detailed data that are essential for constructing formal models of cognitive change. Further, as is amply demonstrated in this volume, they are useful for examining change involving a wide variety of tasks and age groups and for addressing a wide variety of theoretical issues.

In the present chapter, I pursue two main goals, one quite general and one relatively specific. The more general goal is to describe a theory of cognitive change – the overlapping waves approach – that has arisen from my own and other investigators' microgenetic studies. The more specific goal is to illustrate a use to which the microgenetic method is just beginning to be put, but one that it can serve very effectively: Helping us understand how instructional approaches exercise their effects. The particular instructional approach used to illustrate this function is encouragement to generate self-explanations, that is, encouragement to explain how or why events occurred. I first describe the general theory, then the specific application.

Overlapping waves theory

Implicit metaphors shape our thinking about many topics. A common implicit metaphor underlying traditional views of cognitive development was made explicit by the title of Robbie Case's (1992) book The mind's staircase.

References
Adolph, K. E. (1997). Learning in the development of infant locomotion. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 62 (Serial No. 251)
Alibali, M. W., & Goldin-Meadow, S. (1993). Gesture-speech mismatch and mechanisms of learning: What the hands reveal about a child's state of mind. Cognitive Psychology, 25, 468–523
Anzai, Y., & Simon, H. A. (1979). The theory of learning by doing. Psychological Review, 86, 124–140
Ashcraft, M. H. (1987). Children's knowledge of simple arithmetic: A developmental model and simulation. In J. Bisanz, C. J. Brainerd, & R. Kail (Eds.), Formal methods in developmental psychology (pp. 302–338). New York: Springer-Verlag
Baer, J. (1993). Creativity and divergent thinking: A task-specific approach. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum
Bauer, P. J., & Mandler, J. M. (1989). One thing follows another: Effects of temporal structure on 1-to 2-year-olds’ recall of events. Developmental Psychology, 25, 197–206
Bielaczyc, K., Pirolli, P. L., & Brown, A. L. (1995). Training in self-explanation and self-regulation strategies: Investigating the effects of knowledge acquisition activities on problem solving. Cognition and Instruction, 13, 221–252
Carey, S. (1985). Conceptual change in childhood. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
Case, R. (1992). The mind's staircase: Exploring the conceptual underpinnings of children's thought and knowledge. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum
Chen, Z., & Siegler, R. S. (2000). Across the great divide: Bridging the gap between understanding of toddlers’ and older children's thinking. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 65 (2, Whole No. 261)
Chi, M. T. H. (2000). Self-explaining expository texts: The dual processes of generating inferences and repairing mental models. In R. Glaser (Ed.), Advances in instructional psychology, Vol. 5 (pp. 161–237). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum
Chi, M. T. H., Bassok, M., Lewis, M., Reimann, P., & Glaser, R. (1989). Self-explanations: How students study and use examples in learning to solve problems. Cognitive Science, 13, 145–182
Chi, M. T. H., Leeuw, N., Chiu, M.-H., & LaVancher, C. (1994). Eliciting self-explanations improves understanding. Cognitive Science, 18, 439–477
Church, R. B., & Goldin-Meadow, S. (1986). The mismatch between gesture and speech as an index of transitional knowledge. Cognition, 23, 43–71
Coyle, T. R., & Bjorklund, D. F. (1995). The development of strategic memory: A modified microgenetic assessment of utilization deficiencies. Cognitive Development, 11, 295–314
Coyle, T. R., & Bjorklund, D. F. (1997). Age differences in, and consequences of, multiple-and variable-strategy use on a multitrial sort-recall task. Developmental Psychology, 33, 372–380
Ferguson-Hessler, M. G. M., & Jong, T. (1990). Studying physics texts: Differences in study processes between good and poor solvers. Cognition and Instruction, 7, 41–54
Goldin-Meadow, S., & Alibali, M. W. (this volume). Looking at the hands through time: A microgenetic perspective on learning and instruction
Granott, N. (1993). Patterns of interaction in the co-construction of knowledge: Separate minds, joint effort, and weird creatures. In R. Wozniak & K. W. Fischer (Eds.), Development in context: Acting and thinking in specific environments (pp. 183–207). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum
Granott, N. (1998). A paradigm shift in the study of development: Essay review of Emerging Minds by R. S. Siegler. Human Development, 41, 360–365
King, A. (1991). Effects of training in strategic questioning on children's problem-solving performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 83, 307–317
Kuhn, D., Garcia-Mila, M., Zohar, A., & Andersen, C. (1995). Strategies of knowledge acquisition. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 60 (Serial No. 245)
LeFevre, J. A., Sadesky, G. S., & Bisanz, J. (1996). Selection of procedures in mental addition: Reassessing the problem-size effect in adults. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 22, 216–230
Leslie, A. M. (1982). The perception of causality in infants. Perception, 11, 173–186
Marquer, J., & Pereira, M. (1990). Reaction times in the study of strategies in sentence-picture verification: A reconsideration. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 42A, 147–168
Miller, P., & Aloise-Young, P. (1996). Preschoolers’ strategic behaviors and performance on a same-different task. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 60, 284–303
Nathan, M. J., Mertz, K., & Ryan, B. (1994). Learning through self-explanation of mathematical examples: Effects of cognitive load. Paper presented at the 1994 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association
Neuringer, A. (1993). Reinforced variation and selection. Animal Learning & Behavior, 21, 83–91
Oakes, L. M., & Cohen, L. B. (1995). Infant causal perception. In C. Rovee-Collier & L. P. Lipsitt (Eds.), Advances in infancy research, Vol. 9. Norwood, NJ: Ablex
Perry, M., Church, R. B., & Goldin-Meadow, S. (1988). Transitional knowledge in the acquisition of concepts. Cognitive Development, 3, 359–400
Perry, M., & Elder, A. D. (1999). Knowledge in transition: Adults’ developing understanding of a principle of physical causality. Cognitive Development, 12, 131–157
Perry, M., & Lewis, J. L. (1999). Verbal imprecision as an index of knowledge in transition. Developmental Psychology, 25, 749–759
Piaget, J. (1952). The child's concept of number. New York: W. W. Norton
Pirolli, P., & Recker, M. (1994). Learning strategies and transfer in the domain of programming. Cognition and Instruction, 12, 235–275
Schauble, L. (1996). The development of scientific reasoning in knowledge-rich contexts. Developmental Psychology, 32, 102–119
Shrager, J., & Siegler, R. S. (1998). SCADS: A model of children's strategy choices and strategy discoveries. Psychological Science, 9, 405–410
Siegler, R. S. (1995). How does change occur: A microgenetic study of number conservation. Cognitive Psychology, 28, 225–273
Siegler, R. S. (1996). Emerging minds: The process of change in children's thinking. New York: Oxford University Press
Siegler, R. S., & Jenkins, E. A. (1989). How children discover new strategies. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum
Siegler, R. S., & McGilly, K. (1989). Strategy choices in children's time-telling. In I. Levin & D. Zakay (Eds.), Time and human cognition: A life span perspective (pp. 185–218). The Netherlands: Elsevier Science Publishers
Siegler, R. S., & Shipley, C. (1995). Variation, selection, and cognitive change. In T. Simon & G. Halford (Eds.), Developing cognitive competence: New approaches to process modeling. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum
Siegler, R. S., & Shrager, J. (1984). Strategy choices in addition and subtraction: How do children know what to do? In C. Sophian (Ed.), The origins of cognitive skills. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum
Stevenson, J. W., Lee, S. Y., Chen, C., Stigler, J. W., Hsu, C. C., & Kitamura, S. (1990). Contexts of achievement: A study of American, Chinese, and Japanese children. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 55 (1–2, Serial No. 221)
Stigler, J. W., & Hiebert, J. (1999). The teaching gap. New York: The Free Press
Stokes, P. D., Mechner, F., & Balsam, P. D. (1999). Effects of different acquisition procedures on response variability. Animal Learning and Behavior, 27, 28–41
Thelen, E., & Ulrich, B. D. (1991). Hidden skills. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 56 (Serial No. 223)
Thornton, S. (1999). Creating the conditions for cognitive change: The interaction between task structures and specific strategies. Child Development, 70, 588–603
van Lehn, K. (1983). On the representation of procedures in repair theory. In H. P. Ginsburg (Ed.), The development of mathematical thinking. New York: Academic Press
Webb, N. M. (1989). Peer interaction and learning in small groups. In N. Webb (Ed.), Peer interaction, problem-solving, and cognition: Multidisciplinary perspectives. [Special issue.]International Journal of Education Research, 13, 21–39
Wellman, H. M., & Gelman, S. A. (1998). Knowledge acquisition in foundational domains. In W. Damon (Series Ed.), & D. Kuhn & R. S. Siegler (Vol. Eds.), Handbook of child psychology, Vol. 2: Cognition, perception, and language (5th edn., pp. 523–574). New York: Wiley