Prior research has shown that gestures that co-occur with speech can improve understanding of abstract concepts by embodying the underlying meaning of those concepts, thereby making them more accessible to the listener. The present study examined the effect of gesture on undergraduate students’ learning of a complex statistical concept (analysis of variance; ANOVA). Students in three classes watched a brief video in which the speaker explained the conceptual background of ANOVA while using gesture and students in three other classes saw a similar video with the same speech, but no gesture. Students who saw the gesture learned significantly more, as measured by the increase in scores between a pre-test and a post-test. These results suggest that teachers can enhance students’ learning through the strategic use of gesture.
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Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications
Rueckert, Linda; Church, Ruth Breckinridge; Avila, Andrea; and Trejo, Theresa, "Gesture Enhances Learning of a Complex Statistical Concept" (2017). Psychology & Gerontology Faculty Publications. 17.