Learning from an avatar video instructor
The role of gesture mimicry
Teachers often produce gestures, and, in some cases, students mimic their teachers’ gestures and adopt them into their own repertoires. However, little research has explored the role of gesture mimicry in technology-based learning contexts. In this research, we examined variations in the rate and form of students’ gestures when learning from a computer-animated pedagogical avatar. Twenty-four middle school students received a lesson on polynomial multiplication from a gesturing avatar video instructor. After the lesson, students were asked to provide an explanation of what they learned. Students varied in their gesture rates, and some students produced gestures that were similar in form to the avatar’s gestures. Students who produced gestures that aligned with the teacher’s gestures scored higher than those who did not produce such gestures. These results suggest that middle school students’ gestures play a key role when learning a mathematics lesson from an avatar instructor.
Keywords: gesture mimicry, avatar instructor, algebra, instructional technology
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