Teaching and learning evolution is challenging. Biology education research shows that the underlying evolutionary concepts are poorly understood among students. This prevents a meaningful understanding of the central biological concepts. The instructional format of self-explanation prompts seems to be promising to respond to these difficulties. However, previous research has shown that the interaction between prior knowledge and prompts is an important factor in enhancing effective self-explanations. Nevertheless, there are hardly any studies which focus on the majority of learners in the classrooms, ie students with average prior knowledge. The aim of this study was to analyse the requirements of adaptive self-explanation prompts specifically for these learners. This should enable students at all knowledge levels to be effectively fostered in self-explaining, while they are learning evolution. We investigated the effects of three kinds of prompts for fostering self-explanations: learners with average prior knowledge were prompted with low or/and high-knowledge prompts. Our analysis of 22 verbal protocols by middle-school German students shows that the prompts evoked the intended self-explanations. The most positive impact with regard to self-explanation quality was created by the prompting condition which combines low-knowledge and high-knowledge self-explanation characteristics.