Race, Gesture, Learning and Teaching Effectiveness

Project Description

Over the past two years, this project team has been examining how race and nonverbal communication, such as gesture and affect, impact children’s learning. Through a set of in-lab studies that measured learning outcomes in response to a series of instructional videos, the team generated strong pilot data suggesting gestures may not only improve children’s memory for new information but also function as a “cultural bridge” between teachers and students of different races.

By combining extensive interdisciplinary expertise in racial identity development, cognitive and language development, educational psychology, and public policy with deep-rooted community partnerships, this team hopes to develop and share more equitable teaching models.

Project Goals

The team is working to replicate their research in the lab and pilot a gesture intervention in first and second grade classrooms in local elementary schools. They hypothesize that children of all races will have better recall of vocabulary when their teachers use gestures in their instruction.