Volume 18, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1568-1475
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9773
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



We developed and tested a survey instrument to measure teachers’ attitudes about gesture in learning and instruction (TAGLI). Teachers ( = 192) generally believed that instructional gestures are beneficial for learning, and not distracting for students. Teachers had positive expectations, both for gestures that are redundant with (i.e., match) the accompanying speech, and gestures that are complementary to (i.e., mismatch) speech. However, teachers’ attitudes varied with teachers’ grade bands (middle v. high school) and curricular content areas (STEM v. non-STEM). Teachers endorsed a range of reasons for gesture’s pedagogical effectiveness. These reasons largely mirror the reasons teachers reported for why they produced gestures: gestures help make connections between representations and ideas, make abstract concepts more concrete, and they appropriately direct learners’ attention. Teachers reported that they frequently use gestures while teaching, explaining, and in everyday conversation.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Alibali, Martha W., Julia L. Evans, Autumn B. Hostetter, Kristin Ryan, & Elina Mainela-Arnold
    (2009) Gesture-speech integration in narrative: Are children less redundant than adults?Gesture, 9 (3), 290–311. doi:  10.1075/gest.9.3.02ali
    https://doi.org/10.1075/gest.9.3.02ali [Google Scholar]
  2. Alibali, Martha W. & Mitchell J. Nathan
    (2007) Teachers’ gestures as a means of scaffolding students’ understanding: Evidence from an early algebra lesson. InRicki Goldman, Roy Pea, Brigid Barron, & Sharon J. Derry (Eds.), Video research in the learning sciences (pp. 349–365). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. (2012) Embodiment in mathematics teaching and learning: Evidence from students’ and teachers’ gestures. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 21 (2), 247–286. 10.1080/10508406.2011.611446
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10508406.2011.611446 [Google Scholar]
  4. Alibali, Martha W., Mitchell J. Nathan, Ruth Breckinridge Church, Matthew S. Wolfgram, Suyeon Kim, & Eric J. Knuth
    (2013) Teachers’ gestures and speech in mathematics lessons: Forging common ground by resolving trouble spots. ZDM, 45 (3), 425–440. doi:  10.1007/s11858‑012‑0476‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11858-012-0476-0 [Google Scholar]
  5. Alibali, Martha W., Mitchell J. Nathan, & Yuka Fujimori
    (2011) Gestures in the mathematics classroom: What’s the point?InNancy Stein & Stephen W. Raudenbush (Eds.), Developmental cognitive science goes to school (pp. 219–234). New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Alibali, Martha W., Mitchell J. Nathan, Matthew S. Wolfgram, Ruth Breckinridge Church, Steven A. Jacobs, Chelsea J. Martinez, & Eric J. Knuth
    (2014) How teachers link ideas in mathematics instruction using speech and gesture: A corpus analysis. Cognition and Instruction, 32 (1), 65–100. doi:  10.1080/07370008.2013.858161
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07370008.2013.858161 [Google Scholar]
  7. Alibali, Martha W., Andrew G. Young, Noelle M. Crooks, Amelia Yeo, Matthew S. Wolfgram, Iasmine M. Ledesma, Mitchell J. Nathan, Ruth Breckinridge Church, & Eric J. Knuth
    (2013) Students learn more when their teacher has learned to gesture effectively. Gesture, 13 (2), 210–233. doi:  10.1075/gest.13.2.05ali
    https://doi.org/10.1075/gest.13.2.05ali [Google Scholar]
  8. Borko, Hilda & Ralph T. Putnam
    (1996) Learning to teach. InDavid C. Berliner & Robert C. Calfee (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology (pp. 673–708). New York, NY: Macmillan.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Casasanto, Daniel & Kyle Jasmin
    (2012) The hands of time: Temporal gestures in English speakers. Cognitive Linguistics, 23 (4), 643–674. 10.1515/cog‑2012‑0020
    https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2012-0020 [Google Scholar]
  10. Cassell, Justine, David McNeill, & Karl-Erik McCullough
    (1999) Speech-gesture mismatches: Evidence for one underlying representation of linguistic and nonlinguistic information. Pragmatics and Cognition, 7, 1–33. 10.1075/pc.7.1.03cas
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pc.7.1.03cas [Google Scholar]
  11. Chandler, Paul & John Sweller
    (1991) Cognitive load theory and the format of instruction. Cognition and Instruction, 8 (4), 293–332. doi:  10.1207/s1532690xci0804_2
    https://doi.org/10.1207/s1532690xci0804_2 [Google Scholar]
  12. Church, Ruth Breckinridge, Saba Ayman-Nolley, & Sharzad Mahootian
    (2004) The role of gesture in bilingual education: Does gesture enhance learning?International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 7, 303–319. 10.1080/13670050408667815
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13670050408667815 [Google Scholar]
  13. Church, Ruth Breckinridge & Susan Goldin-Meadow
    (1986) The mismatch between gesture and speech as an index of transitional knowledge. Cognition, 23, 43–71. 10.1016/0010‑0277(86)90053‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0277(86)90053-3 [Google Scholar]
  14. Cook, Susan W., Ryan G. Duffy, & Kimberly M. Fenn
    (2013) Consolidation and transfer of learning after observing hand gesture. Child Development, 84 (6), 1863–1871. doi:  10.1111/cdev.12097
    https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12097 [Google Scholar]
  15. Cook, Susan W. & Susan Goldin-Meadow
    (2006) The role of gesture in learning: Do children use their hands to change their minds?Journal of Cognition and Development, 7, 211–232. 10.1207/s15327647jcd0702_4
    https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327647jcd0702_4 [Google Scholar]
  16. DeVellis, Robert F.
    (2003) Scale development: Theory and applications (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Drew, Paul & John Heritage
    (1992) Talk at work: Interaction in institutional settings. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Eskildsen, Søren Wind & Johannes Wagner
    (2013) Recurring and shared gestures in the L2 classroom: Resources for teaching and learning. European Journal of Applied Linguistics, 1 (1), 139–161. 10.1515/eujal‑2013‑0007
    https://doi.org/10.1515/eujal-2013-0007 [Google Scholar]
  19. Fenstermacher, Gary
    (1979) A philosophical consideration of recent research on teacher effectiveness. InLee S. Shulman (Ed.), Review of research in education (Vol.6, pp. 157–185). Itasca, IL: Peacock.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Fletcher, J. D. & Sigmund Tobias
    (2005) The multimedia principle. InRichard E. Mayer (Ed.), Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning (pp. 117–134). New York: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511816819.008
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511816819.008 [Google Scholar]
  21. Flevares, Lucia M., & Michelle Perry
    (2001) How many do you see? The use of nonspoken representations in first-grade mathematics lessons. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 330–345. 10.1037/0022‑0663.93.2.330
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0663.93.2.330 [Google Scholar]
  22. Flood, Virginia J.
    (2018) Multimodal revoicing as an interactional mechanism for connecting scientific and everyday concepts. Human Development, 61 (3), 145–173. doi:  10.1159/000488693
    https://doi.org/10.1159/000488693 [Google Scholar]
  23. Goldin-Meadow, Susan
    (2003) Hearing gesture: How our hands help us think. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Holle, Henning & Thomas C. Gunter
    (2007) The role of iconic gestures in speech disambiguation: ERP evidence. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19 (7), 1175–1192. 10.1162/jocn.2007.19.7.1175
    https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn.2007.19.7.1175 [Google Scholar]
  25. Hostetter, Autumn B.
    (2011) When do gestures communicate? A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 137 (2), 297–315. doi:  10.1037/a0022128
    https://doi.org/10.1037/a0022128 [Google Scholar]
  26. Hostetter, Autumn B., Kristen Bieda, Martha W. Alibali, Mitchell J. Nathan, & Eric J. Knuth
    (2006) Don’t just tell them, show them! Teachers can intentionally alter their instructional gestures. InRon Sun & Naomi Miyake (Eds.), Proceedings of the 28th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1523–1528). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Hostetter, Autumn B., Stuart H. Murch, Lyla Rothschild, & Cierra S. Gillard
    (2018) Does seeing gesture lighten or increase the load? Effects of processing gesture on verbal and visuospatial cognitive load. Gesture, 17 (2), 268–290. 10.1075/gest.17017.hos
    https://doi.org/10.1075/gest.17017.hos [Google Scholar]
  28. Infante, Nicole E.
    (2016) The second derivative test: A case study of instructor gesture use. InMarcy B. Wood, Erin E. Turner, Marta Civil, & Jennifer A. Eli (Eds.), Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (pp. 1204–1211). Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Kelly, Spencer D., Sarah Ward, Peter Creigh, & James Bartolotti
    (2007) An intentional stance modulates the integration of gesture and speech during comprehension. Brain & Language, 101 (3), 222–233. 10.1016/j.bandl.2006.07.008
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandl.2006.07.008 [Google Scholar]
  30. Koumoutsakis, Theodora, Ruth Breckinridge Church, Martha W. Alibali, Melissa Singer, & Saba Ayman-Nolley
    (2016) Gesture in instruction: Evidence from live and video lessons. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 40 (4), 301–315. doi:  10.1007/s10919‑016‑0234‑z
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10919-016-0234-z [Google Scholar]
  31. Lamberg, Teruni, Rebecca Boncoddo, & Mitchell J. Nathan
    (2019) Supporting teachers’ understanding of instructional gestures to help students make mathematical connections. Manuscript in preparation.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Majlesi, Ali Reza
    (2015) Matching gestures: Teachers’ repetitions of students’ gestures in second language learning classrooms. Journal of Pragmatics, 76, 30–45. doi:  10.1016/j.pragma.2014.11.006
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2014.11.006 [Google Scholar]
  33. Mayer, Richard E., Julie Heiser, & Steve Lonn
    (2001) Cognitive constraints on multimedia learning: When presenting more material results in less understanding. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93 (1), 187–198. doi:  10.1037//0022‑0663.93.1.187
    https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-0663.93.1.187 [Google Scholar]
  34. Mayer, Richard E., & Cheryl I. Johnson
    (2008) Revising the redundancy principle in multimedia learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100 (2), 380–386. doi:  10.1037/0022‑0663.100.2.380
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0663.100.2.380 [Google Scholar]
  35. McNeill, David
    (1985) So you think gestures are nonverbal?Psychological Review, 92 (3), 350. 10.1037/0033‑295X.92.3.350
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.92.3.350 [Google Scholar]
  36. (1992) Hand and mind: What gestures reveal about thought. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Melinger, Alyssa & Willem Levelt
    (2004) Gesture and the communicative intention of the speaker. Gesture, 4 (2), 119–141. 10.1075/gest.4.2.02mel
    https://doi.org/10.1075/gest.4.2.02mel [Google Scholar]
  38. Nagels, Arne, Tilo Kircher, Miriam Steines, Michael Grosvald, & Benjamin Straube
    (2015) A brief self-rating scale for the assessment of individual differences in gesture perception and production. Learning and Individual Differences, 39, 73–80. 10.1016/j.lindif.2015.03.008
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2015.03.008 [Google Scholar]
  39. Nagels, Arne, Tilo Kircher, Michael Grosvald, Miriam Steines, & Benjamin Straube
    (2019) Evidence for gesture-speech mismatch detection impairments in schizophrenia. Psychiatry Research, 273, 15–21. 10.1016/j.psychres.2018.12.107
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2018.12.107 [Google Scholar]
  40. Nathan, Mitchell J., Ruth Breckinridge Church, & Martha W. Alibali
    (2017) Making and breaking common ground: How teachers use gesture to foster learning in the classroom. InRuth Breckinridge Church, Martha W. Alibali, & Spencer D. Kelly (Eds.), Why gesture? How the hands function in speaking, thinking and communicating (pp. 285–316). Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/gs.7.14nat
    https://doi.org/10.1075/gs.7.14nat [Google Scholar]
  41. Nathan, Mitchell J. & Suyeon Kim
    (2009) Regulation of teacher elicitations in the mathematics classroom. Cognition and Instruction, 27 (2), 91–120. 10.1080/07370000902797304
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07370000902797304 [Google Scholar]
  42. Nathan, Mitchell J. & Eric J. Knuth
    (2003) A study of whole classroom mathematical discourse and teacher change. Cognition and Instruction, 21, 175–207. 10.1207/S1532690XCI2102_03
    https://doi.org/10.1207/S1532690XCI2102_03 [Google Scholar]
  43. Nathan, Mitchell J., Rachaya Srisurichan, Candace Walkington, Matthew S. Wolfgram, Caroline Williams, & Martha W. Alibali
    (2013) Building cohesion across representations: A mechanism for STEM integration. Journal of Engineering Education, 102 (1), 77–116. doi:  10.1002/jee.20000
    https://doi.org/10.1002/jee.20000 [Google Scholar]
  44. Nathan, Mitchell J., Matthew S. Wolfgram, Rachaya Srisurichan, Candace Walkington, & Martha W. Alibali
    (2017) Threading mathematics through symbols, sketches, software, silicon, and wood: Teachers produce and maintain cohesion to support STEM integration. The Journal of Educational Research, 110 (3), 272–293. doi:  10.1080/00220671.2017.1287046
    https://doi.org/10.1080/00220671.2017.1287046 [Google Scholar]
  45. Ovendale, Alice, Heather Brookes, Jean-Marc Colletta, & Zain Davis
    (2018) The role of gestural polysigns and gestural sequences in teaching mathematical concepts: The case of halving. Gesture, 17 (1), 128–157. doi:  10.1075/gest.00013.ove
    https://doi.org/10.1075/gest.00013.ove [Google Scholar]
  46. Paas, Fred, Alexander, Renkl & John Sweller
    (2003) Cognitive load theory and instructional design: Recent developments. Educational Psychologist, 38 (1), 1–4. doi:  10.1207/S15326985EP3801_1
    https://doi.org/10.1207/S15326985EP3801_1 [Google Scholar]
  47. Pajares, M. Frank
    (1992) Teachers’ beliefs and educational research: Cleaning up a messy construct. Review of Educational Research, 62 (3), 307–332. 10.3102/00346543062003307
    https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543062003307 [Google Scholar]
  48. Ping, Raedy & Susan Goldin-Meadow
    (2008) Hands in the air: Using ungrounded iconic gestures to teach children conservation of quantity. Developmental Psychology, 44, 1277–1287. 10.1037/0012‑1649.44.5.1277
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.44.5.1277 [Google Scholar]
  49. Rasmussen, Chris, Michelle Stephan, & Karen Allen
    (2004) Classroom mathematical practices and gesturing. The Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 23 (3), 301–323. doi:  10.1016/j.jmathb.2004.06.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmathb.2004.06.003 [Google Scholar]
  50. Richland, Lindsey E.
    (2015) Linking gestures: Cross-cultural variation during instructional analogies. Cognition and Instruction, 33 (4), 295–321. 10.1080/07370008.2015.1091459
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07370008.2015.1091459 [Google Scholar]
  51. Roth, Wolff-Michael
    (2001) Gestures: Their role in teaching and learning. Review of Educational Research, 71, 365–392. 10.3102/00346543071003365
    https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543071003365 [Google Scholar]
  52. Roth, Wolff-Michael & D. Lawless
    (2002) Scientific investigations, metaphorical gestures, and the emergence of abstract scientific concepts. Learning and Instruction, 12 (3), 285–304. 10.1016/S0959‑4752(01)00023‑8
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0959-4752(01)00023-8 [Google Scholar]
  53. Rueckert, Linda, Ruth Breckinridge Church, Andrea Avila, & Theresa Trejo
    (2017) Gesture enhances learning of a complex statistical concept. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 2 (1), 2.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Schmidt, William H., Sigrid Blömeke, Maria Teresa Tatto, Feng-Jui Hsieh, L. Cogan, Richard T. Houang, & J. Schwille
    (2011) Teacher education matters: A study of middle school mathematics teacher preparation in six countries. New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Shein, Paichi Pat
    (2012) Seeing with two eyes: A teacher’s use of gestures in questioning and revoicing to engage English language learners in the repair of mathematical errors. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 43 (2), 182. doi:  10.5951/jresematheduc.43.2.0182
    https://doi.org/10.5951/jresematheduc.43.2.0182 [Google Scholar]
  56. Singer, Melissa A. & Susan Goldin-Meadow
    (2005) Children learn when their teacher’s gestures and speech differ. Psychological Science, 16 (2), 85–89. doi:  10.1111/j.0956‑7976.2005.00786.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0956-7976.2005.00786.x [Google Scholar]
  57. Singer, Melissa A., Joshua Radinsky, & Susan R. Goldman
    (2008) The role of gesture in meaning construction. Discourse Processes, 45, 365–386. 10.1080/01638530802145601
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01638530802145601 [Google Scholar]
  58. Tavakol, Mohsen & Reg Dennick
    (2011) Making sense of Cronbach’s alpha. International Journal of Medical Education, 2, 53. 10.5116/ijme.4dfb.8dfd
    https://doi.org/10.5116/ijme.4dfb.8dfd [Google Scholar]
  59. Vaughan, Graham M. & Michael A. Hogg
    (2018) Social psychology (8th edition). London: Pearson.
    [Google Scholar]
  60. Valenzeno, Laura, Martha W. Alibali, & Roberta L. Klatzky
    (2003) Teachers’ gestures facilitate students’ learning: A lesson in symmetry. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 28, 187–204. 10.1016/S0361‑476X(02)00007‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0361-476X(02)00007-3 [Google Scholar]
  61. Walkington, Candace, Mitchell J. Nathan, Dawn Woods, & Gregory Chelule
    (2019, April). Relationships between gesture beliefs, domain knowledge, and gesture usage in mathematics. Paper presented at theAnnual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Toronto, Canada.
    [Google Scholar]
  62. Weinberg, Aaron, Timothy Fukawa-Connelly, & Emilie Wiesner
    (2015) Characterizing instructor gestures in a lecture in a proof-based mathematics class. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 90 (3), 233–258. doi:  10.1007/s10649‑015‑9623‑1
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10649-015-9623-1 [Google Scholar]
  63. Williams, Robert F.
    (2008) Gesture as conceptual mapping tool. InAlan Cienki & Cornelia Müller (Eds.), Metaphor and gesture (pp. 55–92). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/gs.3.06wil
    https://doi.org/10.1075/gs.3.06wil [Google Scholar]
  64. Wilson, Amy A., Michael D. Boatright, & Melanie Landon-Hays
    (2014) Middle school teachers’ discipline-specific use of gestures and implications for disciplinary literacy instruction. Journal of Literacy Research, 46 (2), 234–262. 10.1177/1086296X14532615
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1086296X14532615 [Google Scholar]
  65. Yeo, Amelia, Iasmine Ledesma, Mitchell J. Nathan, Martha W. Alibali, & Ruth Breckinridge Church
    (2017) Teachers’ gestures and students’ learning: Sometimes “hands off” is better. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 2 (1). doi:  10.1186/s41235‑017‑0077‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1186/s41235-017-0077-0 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): classroom learning; instructional gestures; teacher beliefs
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error