Learning from explaining: does it matter if mom is listening?

J Exp Child Psychol. 2008 Jul;100(3):215-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2007.10.002. Epub 2007 Nov 19.


The goal of the current study was to examine whether explaining to another person improves learning and transfer. In the study, 4- and 5-year-olds (N=54) solved multiple classification problems, received accuracy feedback, and were prompted to explain the correct solutions to their moms, to explain the correct solutions to themselves, or to repeat the solutions. Generating explanations (to selves or moms) improved problem-solving accuracy at posttest, and explaining to mom led to the greatest problem-solving transfer. The study indicates that explanation prompts can facilitate transfer in children as young as 5 years and reveals that it matters if mom is listening.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Color Perception
  • Concept Formation*
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Problem Solving*
  • Retention, Psychology
  • Transfer, Psychology
  • Verbal Behavior*