Students learn more when their teacher has learned to gesture effectively
Teachers’ gestures are an integral part of their instructional communication. In this study, we provided a teacher with a tutorial about ways to use gesture in connecting ideas in mathematics instruction, and we asked the teacher to teach sample lessons about slope and intercept before and after this tutorial. In response to the tutorial, the teacher enhanced his communication about links between ideas by increasing the frequency with which he expressed linked ideas multi-modally (i.e., using both speech and gesture), and by increasing the frequency with which he used simultaneous gestures to linked ideas. We then presented videos of a lesson the teacher provided before the tutorial (the baseline lesson) and one he provided after the tutorial (the enhanced-gesture lesson) to 42 seventh-grade students and assessed their learning. Students who received the enhanced-gesture lesson displayed greater learning about y-intercept than did students who received the baseline lesson. Thus, students learned more when their teacher had learned to gesture effectively.
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