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Embodiment in Mathematics Teaching and Learning: Evidence from Learners' and Teachers' Gestures
ARTICLE

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Journal of the Learning Sciences Volume 21, Number 2, ISSN 1050-8406

Abstract

Gestures are often taken as evidence that the body is involved in thinking and speaking about the ideas expressed in those gestures. In this article, we present evidence drawn from teachers' and learners' gestures to make the case that mathematical knowledge is embodied. We argue that mathematical cognition is embodied in 2 key senses: It is based in perception and action, and it is grounded in the physical environment. We present evidence for each of these claims drawn from the gestures that teachers and learners produce when they explain mathematical concepts and ideas. We argue that (a) "pointing" gestures reflect the grounding of cognition in the physical environment, (b) "representational" gestures manifest mental simulations of action and perception, and (c) some "metaphoric" gestures reflect body-based conceptual metaphors. Thus, gestures reveal that some aspects of mathematical thinking are embodied. (Contains 1 table, 3 footnotes and 12 figures.)

Citation

Alibali, M.W. & Nathan, M.J. (2012). Embodiment in Mathematics Teaching and Learning: Evidence from Learners' and Teachers' Gestures. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 21(2), 247-286. Retrieved January 17, 2021 from .

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