The role of gesture meaningfulness in word learning across genders

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The Ohio State University

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The focus of this study is adult word learning through the use of gestures. Previous research has shown that children use word and gesture combinations during word learning and that meaningful gestures, when paired with the object name being learned, facilitate greater word learning. Participants were measured on their word learning through three gesture conditions: meaningful gesture, nonsense gesture, and no gesture. Analyses also focused on learning outcomes of nouns versus verbs, as well as high frequency versus low frequency words. A secondary study was conducted to address possible limitations of the primary study. Neither study found a significant difference in either gender or word class. Across both studies, meaningful gestures led to higher word learning than nonsense or no gestures, and high frequency words led to higher word learning than low frequency words for both nouns and verbs.


Newark Undergraduate Research Forum, 1st place presentation/completed research


gesture, language, learning, gender