Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Although the general consensus is that gesture supports learning across a wide range of learning contexts, nuances to gesture’s effects are found across the gesture-for-learning literature. The purpose of this body of research was to advance our understanding of gesture’s effect on learning. Specifically, we explored the utility of gesture in a domain that had not been considered in the gesture literature previously: analogical reasoning (Study 1). We aimed to understand whether gesture supports children’s analogical reasoning ability and why gesture might support this type of reasoning. Specifically, we investigated whether gesture could support learning through directing visual attention, thereby minimizing the limitations of children’s immature inhibitory control. Next, we investigated when gesture is most beneficial for learning across a wide range of contextual and situational variations of the learning environment: We explored whether there are different effects of gesture on analogical reasoning depending on children’s cognitive capacities (Study 2) and identified under which conditions gesture is most beneficial using a meta-analytic approach (Study 3). Taken together, we provide further evidence that gesture is generally beneficial for learning, but that there are nuances to these effects both within the domain of analogical reasoning and across learning contexts. The effects of gesture depend on a variety of factors that comprise the instructional environment, including factors related to the learner themselves, the content being learned, and the gesture itself.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.