A framing of instructional explanations: Let us explain with you

Carla van de Sande, James G. Greeno

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

10 Scopus citations


Our goal in this chapter is to merge our understanding of explanations with a perspectival theory of framing. We draw on Leinhardt's model of an instructional explanation and show how adding perspective, that is, the way an individual or group understands the kind of activity they are engaged in, together with the way that information is communicated, interpreted, and organized, fits comfortably within Leinhardt's analytic framework. We hypothesize that, in a good explanation (according to Leinhardt's model), the teacher is sensitive to the resources for framing that students initially have and uses instructional activities to help build a bridge between alternative framings so that s/he is explaining the new material with, rather than to, the students. In order to demonstrate how this merging plays out, we analyze a situation in which the explanation is very focused and involves the solution of a single mathematical exercise on the limit concept by a student and a more experienced other. The emergent learning environment in which the interaction takes place is also a tribute to Leinhardt as a pioneer in the research of free, open, online help forums where students can post queries from coursework and receive help and explanations from anonymous volunteers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInstructional Explanations in the Disciplines
PublisherSpringer US
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9781441905932
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010


  • Computer-mediated discourse
  • explanations
  • framing
  • mathematics
  • online tutoring
  • perspective
  • tutoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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