Instructor gesture improves encoding of mathematical representations
- Amelia Yeo, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States
- Susan Cook, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, United States
- Mitchell Nathan, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States
- Voicu Popescu, Department of Computer Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, United States
- Martha Alibali, Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States
AbstractWe examined the effect of instructor gesture and distractor presence on students’ encoding of slope and intercept. In Experiment 1, participants watched an instructor avatar introduce a linear graph while either pointing to the intercept, tracing the slope, or not gesturing (i.e., gaze only). They then reconstructed the graph on paper. Participants were significantly more successful at encoding slope after watching the tracing gesture than after watching no gesture. In Experiment 2, participants watched the avatar either point to the intercept or trace the slope, each either in the presence or absence of a visual distractor. Participants were significantly more successful at encoding slope after watching the tracing gesture than after watching the pointing gesture. Participants were not influenced by the presence of a distractor. Taken together, these results suggest that teachers’ gestures promote students’ encoding of relevant information and could help explain why teachers’ gestures often benefit students’ learning.
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