What makes a good instructional explanation?

Explanations are an important part of instruction and learning. The Cambridge Dictionary defines an explanation as, “the details or other information that someone gives to make something clear or easy to understand.” Researchers differentiate between generic explanations and instructional explanations. The latter take place in an educational context and are intended for the purpose of teaching.

At their best, instructional explanations integrate new information with prior knowledge. They also help people make proper generalizations that consolidate knowledge into principles and theories.

During the early stages of learning, we use explanations to introduce new concepts. In the intermediate phase of learning, explanations help correct misconceptions by restructuring the learner’s knowledge. These are known as revising instructional explanations.

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