The idea behind self-explanation as a reading strategy is to pause from reading your textbook periodically and explain to yourself what it means to you. You can do this after a section of text, or when studying an example problem. When trying to self-explain, you may find that you need to look back over parts of the text to fully understand what's being said.
Professor Micki Chi offers a nice account of why self-explanation works. Her ideas were published as a chapter in the book, Advances in Instructional Psychology. The idea is that self-explaining encourages you to make inferences based on what you are reading. You don't just summarize the text, but say a little more than what was in it. As you try to explain, you also identify problems and so revise your explanation. These serve to enrich and repair your understanding.
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