“Conceptual” instruction in math was more efficient, and led to higher-quality explanations of math, than instruction focused on math procedures, a recent study has found. The study focused on how to maximize the potential of “self-explanations,” or having students explain and justify academic material to themselves, which research has shown can improve learning.
The study was written by Percival Matthews, a predoctoral fellow, and Bethany Rittle-Johnson, an assistant professor of developmental science, at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tenn.
Scheduled to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Experimental Child Pyschology, the study found that conceptual math instruction, in some cases, even made self-explanation unnecessary for certain math tasks.
A version of this article appeared in the April 29, 2009 edition of Education Week