Gesture in Instruction: Evidence from Live and Video Lessons

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Previous studies have shown that teachers’ gestures are beneficial for student learning. In this research, we investigate whether teachers’ gestures have comparable effects in face-to-face live instruction and video-based instruction. We provided sixty-three 7–10 year old students with instruction about mathematical equivalence problems (e.g., 3 + 4 + 5 = __ + 5). Students were assigned to one of four experimental conditions in a 2 × 2 factorial design that varied (1) instruction medium (video vs. live), and (2) instruction modality (speech vs. speech + gesture). There was no main effect of medium: The same amount of learning occurred whether instruction was done live or on video. There was a main effect of modality: Speech instruction accompanied by gesture resulted in significantly more learning and transfer than instruction conveyed through speech only. Gesture’s effect on instruction was stronger for video instruction than live instruction. These findings suggest that there may be a limit to gesture’s role in communication that results in student learning.

Original Citation

Koumoutsakis, T., Church, R.B., Alibali, M.W., Singer, M., & Ayman-Nolley, S. (2016). Gesture in Instruction: Evidence from Live and Video Lessons. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 40(4), 301-315. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10919-016-0234-z