Grounding Erosion: Are Congruent Gestures and Learning Related?
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A quasi-experimental design was set up to determine whether congruent gestures are related to learning, when learning about erosion facilitated by an Augmented Reality Sandbox. Congruent gestures are gestures that are analogically related to the meaning of a concept, in this case erosion. It is thought that by using congruent gestures, students ground erosion in the brain’s modal system, thereby making erosion immediately meaningful to them. A total of 62 participants (84% male, 16% female, aged 11-15) from two secondary schools (VMBO and VWO) was randomly divided into the hands condition (Hands) or scoops condition (Scoops). Hands were able to manipulate sand with their hands, whereas Scoops received a sand scoop to manipulate sand with. It was assumed that these conditions stimulated either congruent gestures (hands condition) or incongruent gestures (scoops condition). Pre- and posttest scores were analyzed as well as video recordings. Results show that there is no significant difference in learning gain between Hands and Scoops (t(60) = 1.42, p = .162), but there was an effect size of d = 0.36. Furthermore, Scoops spend more time making congruent gestures than Hands. The discussion speculates about the possible negative impact that not being able to touch sand might have had on learning gain.