Teacher and Student Use of Gesture and Access to Secondary Mathematics for Students with Learning Disabilities: An Exploratory Study

Casey Hord, Samantha Marita, Jennifer B. Walsh, Taylor-Marie Tomaro, Kiyana Gordon, & Rene L. Saldanha (Learning Disabilities: A Contemporary Journal 14[2], 189–206, 2016):

The researchers conducted an exploratory qualitative case study to describe the gesturing processes of tutors and students when engaging in secondary mathematics. The use of gestures ranged in complexity from simple gestures, such as pointing and moving the pointing finger in an arching motion to demonstrate mathematics relationships within equations (e.g., distributive property), to more elaborate gestures such as using arm movements to demonstrate spatial relationships in multi-step geometry problems. These gestures were used both in isolation and in combination with research-supported special education interventions such as helping students with learning disabilities to organize their cognitive process and diagram problems. Findings from this study are described with regards to the potential role gesturing may provide as a support for students with learning disabilities as they engage in challenging mathematics.

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