Combining gesture with verbal instruction promotes problem-solving skills among young children attempting difficult tasks
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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 2021-18-09 at 23:45