Gesture as a support for word learning: The case of under

Karla K. McGregor, Katharina J. Rohlfing, Allison Bean, Ellen Marschner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Forty children, aged 1; 82; 0, participated in one of three training conditions meant to enhance their comprehension of the spatial term under: the +Gesture group viewed a symbolic gesture for under during training; those in the +Photo group viewed a still photograph of objects in the under relationship; those in the Model Only group did not receive supplemental symbolic support. Children's knowledge of under was measured before, immediately after, and two to three days after training. A gesture advantage was revealed when the gains exhibited by the groups on untrained materials (but not trained materials) were compared at delayed post-test (but not immediate post-test). Gestured input promoted more robust knowledge of the meaning of under, knowledge that was less tied to contextual familiarity and more prone to consolidation. Gestured input likely reduced cognitive load while emphasizing both the location and the movement relevant to the meaning of under.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)807-828
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Child Language
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Psychology(all)

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