Self-monitoring and knowledge-building in learning by teaching

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83 Scopus citations


Prior research has established that learning by teaching depends upon peer tutors' engagement in knowledge-building, in which tutors integrate their knowledge and generate new knowledge through reasoning. However, many tutors adopt a knowledge-telling bias defined by shallow summarizing of source materials and didactic lectures. Knowledge-telling contributes little to learning with deeper understanding. In this paper, we consider the self-monitoring hypothesis, which states that the knowledge-telling bias may arise due to tutors' limited or inadequate evaluation of their own knowledge and understanding of the material. Tutors who fail to self-monitor may remain unaware of knowledge gaps or other confusions that could be repaired via knowledge-building. To test this hypothesis, sixty undergraduates were recruited to study and then teach a peer about a scientific topic. Data included tests of recall and comprehension, as well as extensive analyses of the explanations, questions, and self-monitoring that occurred during tutoring. Results show that tutors' comprehension-monitoring and domain knowledge, along with pupils' questions, were significant predictors of knowledge-building, which was in turn predictive of deeper understanding of the material. Moreover, tutorial interactions and questions appeared to naturally promote tutors' self-monitoring. However, despite frequent comprehension-monitoring, many tutors still displayed a strong knowledge-telling bias. Thus, peer tutors appeared to experience more difficulty with self-regulatory aspects of knowledge-building (i.e., responding appropriately to perceived knowledge gaps and confusions) than with self-monitoring. Implications and alternative hypotheses for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-351
Number of pages25
JournalInstructional Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Expertise
  • Explaining
  • Learning by teaching
  • Metacognition
  • Peer tutoring
  • Personal epistemology
  • Question-answering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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