Psychology Colloquium: A/Prof Naomi Sweller (Department of Psychology – Macquarie University)
Department of Psychology, Macquarie University
Title: I (might!) listen, but I’m also watching: Effects of gestures on learning and communication
Abstract: We often think of “communication” as meaning verbal interactions only, or perhaps the effect of a smile or a frown. Less frequently considered are the hand gestures that can co-occur with speech. These movements, made either a speaker or a listener with their hands or arms, can have sizeable effects on learning. We learn more when we watch others’ gestures than from speech alone, and producing our own gestures can similarly benefit task performance. In this presentation we will look at when gestures might be beneficial to learning and communication, as well as discussing the effects of different types and sub-types of gestures on a variety of tasks. We will look at the effects of task difficulty, as well as individual differences such as age and cognitive ability. Finally, we will look at when perhaps gestures might not be beneficial, including some rather counter-intuitive findings of negative effects of gesture production on learning.