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Command Words – Explain

Watch this to explore ‘explain’ questions for Higher PE (and to find out why waterfalls form)

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I visited a waterfall recently with a friend, it was incredible.

I have always found waterfalls beautiful – the grace of the falling water, the noise, the power.

But it was not until my friend explained it to me that I understood why they formed… the band of hard rock that gets undercut and the different types of erosion caused by the water.

My friend helped me switch from knowing what waterfalls look and feel like, to knowing why they are there. I could now explain them as well as describe them.

There is a big difference here, and it matters for Higher PE, a lot.

Let me explain…

This is thinkfour.

When we are answering explain questions it is always good to have a structure to your answer. In PE, we use the PEE chain.

You want to make a POINT to the reader, give an EXPLANATION and finally give an EXAMPLE in relation to the context of the question. By doing this you are showing a cause and then an effect. Try your best not to give your personal opinion.

The first sentence should be a statement. This frames what you are about to explain. It might be a factor, such as resilience or anxiety, you want to show that had a significant bearing on an outcome.

The second sentence is your explanation – you connect the factor to the outcome. You say why it impacted and why it was significant.

Finally your third sentence should provide an example. This puts it in context and demonstrates what you are saying is true.

Using language like, this meant, therefore and because are good linking words to make sure you focus on explanation, rather than just description.

An effective way to look at it is a lock and a key. The point is the lock, the explanation is the key and the example opens your understanding of the point you have made.

Let’s think about pulling these three elements together.

We can look at an example where a student is describing the impact mental factors had on performance development.

“Being mentally tough helped me when trying to develop my CRE when approaching the end of the bleep test. This meant I kept persevering and pushing myself when my body started to tire in order to achieve my goal and keep improving my CRE levels. I had to push myself through a pain barrier in order to achieve a higher level of performance. I improved by two levels in my final attempt.

Anxiety, however, hindered my training performance when I knew my coach was watching me performing repetition drills. This meant I got nervous and did not improve my accuracy as much as I had hoped as I was so focused on the judging process rather than my focusing on my sub-routines. When my coach was observing me, my unforced service err ors increased two-fold due to the pressure of observation.”

Using the Point-Explanation-Example system gives my answer structure when I am writing. It will help you avoid skimming the explanation and allow you to show off the depth of your understanding.

Visiting that waterfall had a big impact on me. It really made me appreciate the why as well as the what – the explanation as well as the description.

Make sure you do the same for PE. Be clear on the differences and practice communicating both. They are different things and easily confused.

“Don’t go chasing waterfalls” or so it has been said… at least I understand them better now.

This was thinkfour, thanks for watching.