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Knowledge Conveyed in Gesture Is Not Tied to the Hands

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Children frequently gesture when they explain what they know, and their gestures sometimes convey different information than their speech does. In this study, we investigate whether children's gestures convey knowledge that the children themselves can recognize in another context. We asked fourth-grade children to explain their solutions to a set of math problems and identified the solution procedures each child conveyed only in gesture (and not in speech) during the explanations. We then examined whether those procedures could be accessed by the same child on a rating task that did not involve gesture at all. Children rated solutions derived from procedures they conveyed uniquely in gesture higher than solutions derived from procedures they did not convey at all. Thus, gesture is indeed a vehicle through which children express their knowledge. The knowledge children express uniquely in gesture is accessible on other tasks, and in this sense, is not tied to the hands.
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Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Carnegie Mellon University 2: University of Chicago.

Publication date: 01 February 1998

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