Williams, J. J., Kovacs, G., Walker, C., Maldonado, S. G., & Lombrozo, T. (2014). Learning online via prompts to explain. 32nd Annual ACM Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems.
Prompting learners to explain their beliefs can help them correct misconceptions upon encountering anomalies — facts and observations that conflict with learners’ current understanding. We have developed a way to augment online interfaces for learning by adding prompts for users to explain a fact or observation. We conducted two experiments testing the effects of these explanation prompts, finding that they increase learners’ self-correction of misconceptions, though these benefits of explaining depend on: (1) How many anomalies the prompts require people to explain, and (2) Whether anomalies are distributed so that individual observations guide learners to correct ideas by conflicting with multiple misconceptions at once.