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SEE is a method of clarification and understanding.[1] It stands for State, Elaborate, Exemplify, and Illustrate. This method provides a way to better understand and/or clearly communicate a concept or topic. SEE-I also lends itself to a natural descriptive style of writing where important concepts or topics are described in a clear, repetitive manner. This same method is sometimes referred to as the C-I paradigm.[2] SEEI was originated by Richard Paul and Linda Elder and further developed by Gerald Nosich.


SEE-I has the following four steps:

1. State the concept or idea in a single sentence or two.
  • Clearly and succinctly state the concept.
2. Elaborate on the concept in your own words. Explain it at greater length in a paragraph or two.
  • Clarify the concept in your own words. "In other words,. . ."
3. Exemplify the concept by giving concrete examples (and counter examples) of the concept.
  • Specify the concept by giving specific examples. "For example, . . ."
4. Illustrate the concept with a picture.
  • Draw something, find an existing picture, or create a picture with words, such as with a metaphor or analogy. "It's like ..."

As a process, SEE-I starts with a clear statement of the concept, followed by clarification in the person's own words. Next, the person goes to the specific with examples and counter examples of the concept. Finally, the person ends with a generalization of the concept, typically in the form of a metaphor or analogy. This illustration often represents a mapping to a more common domain of knowledge and helps the reader fully latch onto the concept. As the person works his or her way through the steps, previous steps often require revision. So the process as a whole is iterative, refining, and self-correcting. SEE is also an amenable method for small groups. A handful of individuals can work through the process to better understand the given concept and create a clear description for others.


SEE the concept "learning".

  • Learning is the gaining of knowledge, understanding, or ability.
  • In other words, learning is a process by which a person gains specific knowledge, understanding of this knowledge, or a specific skill (ability). Often learning involves gaining all three to varying degrees. The process occurs through a stressful repetitive perception that allows the underlying neural network of the mind and body to adapt to the repetitive input. True learning involves internalization of the knowledge being learned. When I have learned something, I can not only say it back, I can also explain it, use it, and integrate it with my other knowledge.
  • For example, a child slowly learns to ride a bike by being guided, by practicing, and occasionally by falling down.
  • A counter example is someone that continues to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.
  • Another example: Someone who has learned about the American Civil War can describe many of its main features, discuss alternative accounts of it, and trace out some of its main effects on later society.

SEE the concept "cellular metabolism".

  • Cellular metabolism is the set of chemical reactions inside a cell that maintain life.
  • Cellular metabolism is the set of chemical reactions representing the flow of matter and energy through the cell. These chemical reactions maintain homeostasis, allow growth, and keep a relatively constant level of entropy in the cell.
  • The citric acid cycle is a part of cellular metabolism.
  • Cellular respiration is another part of cellular metabolism.
  • A counter example is the production of humus in the soil.

SEE the concept "diffusion".

  • Diffusion is the transport of matter from one point to another by random molecular motions
  • In other words, diffusion occurs when tiny matter or molecules move from one point from another. This could occur in solids, liquids or gases.
  • For example, when someone sprays perfume in a corner of a room, the perfume particles will travel to the other areas in the room.


  1. ^ Nosich (2009) pp. 33-38
  2. ^ Paul and Elder (2005)


  • Nosich, Gerald M. (2009, 2005, 2001) Learning to Think Things Through: A Guide to Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum. Published by Pearson Prentice Hall. 3rd edition, pp. 33–38. ISBN 0-13-813242-9
  • Paul, Richard, and Elder, Linda. (2005) Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Learning and Your Life. Published by Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-114962-8