David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Cognitive Science 34 (5):776-806 (2010)
Research in education and cognitive development suggests that explaining plays a key role in learning and generalization: When learners provide explanations—even to themselves—they learn more effectively and generalize more readily to novel situations. This paper proposes and tests a subsumptive constraints account of this effect. Motivated by philosophical theories of explanation, this account predicts that explaining guides learners to interpret what they are learning in terms of unifying patterns or regularities, which promotes the discovery of broad generalizations. Three experiments provide evidence for the subsumptive constraints account: prompting participants to explain while learning artificial categories promotes the induction of a broad generalization underlying category membership, relative to describing items (Exp. 1), thinking aloud (Exp. 2), or free study (Exp. 3). Although explaining facilitates discovery, Experiment 1 finds that description is more beneficial for learning item details. Experiment 2 additionally suggests that explaining anomalous observations may play a special role in belief revision. The findings provide insight into explanation’s role in discovery and generalization
|Keywords||Self‐explanation Anomalies Category learning Learning Explanation Transfer Generalization|
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References found in this work BETA
Michelene T. H. Chi, Miriam Bassok, Matthew W. Lewis, Peter Reimann & Robert Glaser (1989). Self‐Explanations: How Students Study and Use Examples in Learning to Solve Problems. Cognitive Science 13 (2):145-182.
Michelene T. H. Chi, Nicholas Leeuw, Mei‐Hung Chiu & Christian Lavancher (1994). Eliciting Self‐Explanations Improves Understanding. Cognitive Science 18 (3):439-477.
Michael Friedman (1974). Explanation and Scientific Understanding. Journal of Philosophy 71 (1):5-19.
Noah D. Goodman, Joshua B. Tenenbaum, Jacob Feldman & Thomas L. Griffiths (2008). A Rational Analysis of Rule‐Based Concept Learning. Cognitive Science 32 (1):108-154.
Charles Kalish (2002). Gold, Jade, and Emeruby: The Value of Naturalness for Theories of Concepts and Categories. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 22 (1):45-66.
Citations of this work BETA
Tania Lombrozo (2011). The Instrumental Value of Explanations. Philosophy Compass 6 (8):539-551.
Tania Lombrozo (2011). The Campaign for Concepts. Dialogue 50 (1):165-177.
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