ABSTRACT—How does gesturing help children learn? Gesturing might encourage children to extract meaning implicit in their hand movements. If so, children should be sensitive to the particular movements they produce and learn accordingly. Alternatively, all that may matter is that children move their hands. If so, they should learn regardless of which movements they produce. To investigate these alternatives,we manipulated gesturing during a math lesson. We found that children required to produce correct gestures learned more than children required to produce partially correct gestures, who learned more than children required to produce no gestures. This effect was mediated by whether children took information conveyed solely in their gestures and added it to their speech. The findings suggest that body movements are involved not only in processing old ideas, but also in creating new ones. We may be able to lay foundations for new knowledge simply by telling learners how to move their hands.I'm keenly interested in this work, and in fact taught one set of gestures to the kids in my afterschool Singapore Math class.
Psychological Science - March 2009
Volume 20—Number 3 p. 267 - 272
I'm wondering whether this phenomenon is related to mnemonic devices. I've been thinking about this subject lately because I've been making my way through an amazing book: Spanish by Association, which deserves every one of the 5 stars Amazon reviewers have bestowed upon it.
I need to learn more about mnemonics. From what I gather thus far, mnemonic devices work for a different reason than I had thought. More anon.
I'll try to steal a moment to read the Goldin-Meadow study, too. If you'd like a copy, send me an email. cijohn @ verizon.net