Autoexplicaci³n. Technique of study 8/8.

I confess that, when I read for the first time on the technique of the autoexplicaci³n (in English €œself-explanation€), I discarded to write envelope she. It seemed practical little to me and the revision of the Dunlosky (1) granted €œmoderate€ utility to him and many you beat.

But Peter and Alex in its book €œLearning Medicine: An Evidence-Based Guide€ (affiliate connection, thanks) dedicates to a few interesting paragraphs and references to him, so that I thought it better. Not only that, but I used the technique for my personal study and he contributed a few advantages to me, so here we are.


It is the generation on the part of the students of causal inferences. It is clear, no?


Bond, was joke€¦ Here I explain it better: it consists of to explain to one same, after to read on new concept or process, how it relates and so either we know, as the concepts within that new process are related that we have learned, or to explain with our own words the steps that have been used to solve a clinical case or another kind of problem. It is made generally verbally, in same stop or speaking to you (if you are in a public library, for example).

Certainly more than one of that you are reading this right now or you do it by your account, mainly when it is called on to you to study something difficult or complicated. But all the students do not use this technique spontaneously.

In a autoexplicaci³n ideas on if can be included you understand or you do not understand what you finish reading €œThen I do not understand anything€¦€ (it adds to profanities and swearwords to your taste), and also new ideas that they go beyond the read thing. P. ex. you study the serous otitis (snot within the average ear) and you say €œto Aaaah€¦ tinnituses€¦ that is the crack that I finish noticing when yawning€¦ ah, clearly, for that reason they explained the muscles that go of the palate to the Eustachian tube€¦ open the tube€¦€. The relation with the studied thing previously is to remember the birriosos muscles of the Eustachian tube. The new idea is to realize which when yawning sometimes notes cracks, that passes much in the serous otitis, and that enters within the tinnitus concept.

Kindness of the autoexplicaci³n is several: it activates to you and it moves away to you of a passive attitude in the study, that already we know that knowledge is less productive for the retention again. It connects the new thing that you are studying and so already you knew and that reinforces the memorization. It generates mental images and associations not only with other ideas, but with lived situations, etc,


Some experts have designed the skeleton of how he must be a autoexplicaci³n, and is very useful to use them at the outset.

In order to study data (something very current in sanitary races) (2,3):

  1. What new information you finish reading/to see?
  2. How it is related and so already you know?
  3. Does This new information give a new vision you in your understanding of the subject?
  4. Does This new information make arise questions or doubts in your mind?

In order to study clinical problems and cases (3,4):

  1. What principle is applying in this step?
  2. This option is the correct one because€¦
  3. How justified this is step?
  4. What rule or definition allows me to draw this conclusion?

When you have a little experience, you can use your own model of autoexplicaci³n.

Widely it is demonstrated that this tactics allow to learn and to retain information more easily in the long term, but consumes long time. Not always it will be necessary to use it because many of the new concepts are easy to understand.


In my brief experience, and according to the advice of Peter and Alex, these would be the occasions in which he is very profitable to use the autoexplicaci³n:

  • When the concept that you are studying is difficult or complex (if it had known it when it was called on to me to study the cardiac arrhythmias€¦).
  • When you take awhile reading and it give account you of which dream is entering you, because this technique demands more action to you by your part. If you rise and it take some steps while you explain it to you and you gesture, better.
  • When you feel to review a subject that you thought that you understood and it give account you of which NO-TIENES-NI-IDEA.
  • When what you finish reading it enters conflict and so you thought that you knew.



Other entrances on study techniques:


1. Dunlosky J, Rawson KA, Marsh EX, Nathan MJ, Willinghamd DT. Improving students' learning with effective learning techniques: Educational Promising directions from cognitive and psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest 2013; 14:4-58.

2. Chi MTH, Leeuw N, Chiu MH, Lavancher C. Eliciting self-explanations improves understanding. Cognitive Science 1994; 18(3): 439-477.

3. Haussman RGM ET to. The Design of Self-explanation Prompts: The Fit Hypothesis. Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society 2009. L$p. 2626-2631.

4. Conati, C., & Vanlehn, K. Toward computer-based support of puts-cognitive skills: To computational framework to coach self-explanation. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education 2000; 11:389-415.

Almudena Trinidad

I am otorrinolaring³loga doctor in a hospital of Madrid and Professor Asociada de Medicina in the UAM. I help Medicine students to develop more effective techniques of study to obtain better notes, to remember during more time and to feel like more happy insurances and with its studies.

6 Commentaries
  • Elena Mu±oz
    Published to 08:57 h, 25 October To respond

    Thanks for the post! Thus I begin the morning with a little motivation, and it never is of more knowledge new technical than they help me, today without lack I will put it in it practices, he is very interesting! :):)

    • Almudena Trinidad
      Published to 12:46 h, 25 October To respond

      Thank you very much, Elena! To eat the notes, that sooner or later will fall€¦ 😉

  • Marco A.
    Published to 08:37 h, 06 November To respond

    Very interesting! In my case already it used it by instinct because it was the unique way to understand and to retain although it is briefly the information and in the long run note very enormously that desire memory in the long term. In my case, and I suppose that as happened to him to many and as you mention, the problem is the time. It is necessary to know how to discriminate between the important data and those that and not to apply the technique correctly to be productive. Question of practice no? 😉 That luck we have medicine is long jajaja

    • Almudena Trinidad
      Published to 19:55 h, 06 November To respond

      Yes, practice question and to reserve the technique for the most difficult contents. And of course that Medicine is long€¦ if it told you how use the autoexplicaci³n to deepen in the field of the vertigos, not to do the mess to me father€¦ 🙂

  • Roberto
    Published to 18:49 h, 07 July To respond

    Hello, pos felicdades their post, have helped me much, I have a question, is a version in Spanish of the Learning book Medicine: An Evidence-Based Guide?

    • Almudena Trinidad
      Published to 19:56 h, 08 July To respond

      Hello, Roberto, thanks to read the blog. Then to where I know does not exist a version in Spanish, unfortunately.

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