Young children taught maths by a tutor who used hand movements and gestures to convey a point scored more highly in tests and better remembered what they had learnt, a study found. This is from the Times…
Hand gestures not only explained theories but also conveyed a sense of excitement and caught the children’s attention, the academics concluded.
In the study, reported in Child Development, the educational journal, psychologists tested two groups of children aged between 6 and 10.
One group was shown a video of a teacher talking about how to solve some basic maths and algebra sums. The second group was shown a video in which the same teacher explained the sums using the same script but adding hand movements and gestures. The children were tested on the maths problems discussed in the film afterwards and then again the following day.
The group who watched the teacher using hand gestures got higher scores in the initial test and actually improved their scores in the second test.
The study was conducted by education psychologists at Michigan State University and the University of Iowa.
Kimberly Fenn, a co-author, said: “Gesturing can be a very beneficial tool that is completely free and easily employed in classrooms. And I think it can have long-lasting effects. Gestures clarify or provide conceptual information that is not readily apparent in the accompanying speech.”
She suggested that parents should also use hand gestures when explaining things to their children.