, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 1-18

Explanation generation, not explanation expectancy, improves metacomprehension accuracy

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Abstract

The ability to monitor the status of one’s own understanding is important to accomplish academic tasks proficiently. Previous studies have shown that comprehension monitoring (metacomprehension accuracy) is generally poor, but improves when readers engage in activities that access valid cues reflecting their situation model (activities such as concept mapping or self-explaining). However, the question still remains as to which process, encoding or retrieving, causes the improvement of metacomprehension accuracy, and the findings of previous research on this matter have been inconsistent. This study examined whether college students’ metacomprehension accuracy improves when they expect, at the time of reading, that they will explain the content later (active encoding) or when they actually generate an explanation (encoding plus active retrieving). In the experiments, college students read five texts. During reading, some students expected that they would generate explanations but did not actually generate them. In contrast, some students actually generated an explanation of the text after reading. All students then rated their comprehension of each text. Finally, they completed tests on the materials. Results of both studies revealed that metacomprehension accuracy, operationalized as the association between comprehension ratings and test performance, was greater for the group that actually generated explanations than for the expectancy or control groups.