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Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society




Teaching a new concept with gestures – hand movements that accompany speech – facilitates learning above-and-beyond instruction through speech alone (e.g., Singer & GoldinMeadow, 2005). However, the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are still being explored. Here, we use eye tracking to explore one mechanism – gesture’s ability to direct visual attention. We examine how children allocate their visual attention during a mathematical equivalence lesson that either contains gesture or does not. We show that gesture instruction improves posttest performance, and additionally that gesture does change how children visually attend to instruction: children look more to the problem being explained, and less to the instructor. However looking patterns alone cannot explain gesture’s effect, as posttest performance is not predicted by any of our looking-time measures. These findings suggest that gesture does guide visual attention, but that attention alone cannot account for its facilitative learning effects.


Author Posting. © The Authors 2016. This article is posted here by permission of the Cognitive Science Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The article was published in the Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 2016,

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