Combining gesture with verbal instruction promotes problem-solving skills among young children attempting difficult tasks
Publication in refereed journal

Times Cited
Altmetrics Information

Other information
AbstractExtensive research shows that caregivers’ speech and gestures can scaffold children’s learning. This study examines whether caregivers increase the amount of spoken and gestural instruction when a task becomes difficult for children. We also examine whether increasing the amount of instruction containing both speech and gestures enhances children’s problem-solving. Ninety-three 3- to 4-year-old Chinese children and their caregivers participated in our study. The children tried to assemble two jigsaw puzzles (with 12 pieces in one and 20 in the other); each puzzle was attempted in three phases. The order in which the puzzles were to be solved was randomized. In Phases 1 and 3, the children tried to solve the puzzles alone. In Phase 2, the children received instruction from their caregivers. The children assembled a smaller proportion of the 20-piece puzzle than of the 12-piece one, suggesting that the 20-piece puzzle was more difficult than the 12-piece one. The caregivers produced more spoken and gestural instruction for the 20-piece than for the 12-piece puzzle. The proportion of the instruction employing both speech and gesture (+InstS+InstG) was significantly greater for the 20-piece puzzle than for the 12-piece puzzle. More importantly, the children who received more instruction with +InstS+InstG performed better in solving the 20-piece puzzle than those who received less instruction of the same type. Those who did not receive +InstS+InstG instruction performed less successfully in Phase 3. However, the facilitating effect of instruction with +InstS+InstG was not found with the 12-piece puzzle. Our findings suggest that adults should incorporate speech and gesture in their instruction as frequently as possible when teaching their children to perform a difficult task.
All Author(s) ListHou S., So W.C.
Journal nameEuropean Journal of Developmental Psychology
Detailed descriptionTo ORKTS: Wing-Chee So is listed as the corresponding author of this article.
Volume Number14
Issue Number1
PublisherPsychology Press
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
Pages87 - 101
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom
Keywordsgesture, Instruction, learning, scaffolding, speech

Last updated on 2020-30-11 at 01:44