Research has demonstrated that physical activity involving gross motor activities can lead to better cognitive functioning and higher academic achievement scores. In addition, research within the theoretical framework of embodied cognition has shown that embodying knowledge through the use of more subtle motor activities, such as task-relevant gestures, has a positive effect on learning. In this study, we investigated whether combining both physical activities and gestures could improve learning even more in a 4-week intervention program on foreign language vocabulary learning in preschool children. The main hypothesis that learning by embodying words through task-relevant enactment gestures and physical activities would be perceived as the preferred teaching method and lead to higher learning outcomes than learning by embodying words through task-relevant enactment gestures only, and learning without physical activities or gestures was confirmed by the results. The results of this study hold great promise for instructional methods combining physical activities and gestures as enhancers of children’s learning.

Embodied cognition, Gesturing, Learning, Physical activity, Preschool children
dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10648-015-9316-4, hdl.handle.net/1765/85532
Educational Psychology Review
Department of Psychology

Toumpaniari, K, Loyens, S.M.M, Mavilidi, M.-F, & Paas, G.W.C. (2015). Preschool children’s foreign language vocabulary learning by embodying words through physical activity and gesturing. Educational Psychology Review (Vol. 27, pp. 445–456). doi:10.1007/s10648-015-9316-4