July 29, 2007
Gestures Improve Memory Retention

Gesticulate to learn more.

Kids asked to physically gesture at math problems are nearly three times more likely than non-gesturers to remember what they’ve learned. In today’s issue of the journal Cognition, a University of Rochester scientist suggests it’s possible to help children learn difficult concepts by providing gestures as an additional and potent avenue for taking in information.

“We’ve known for a while that we use gestures to add information to a conversation even when we’re not entirely clear how that information relates to what we’re saying,” says Susan Wagner Cook, lead author and postdoctoral fellow at the University. “We asked if the reverse could be true; if actively employing gestures when learning helps retain new information.”

It turned out to have a more dramatic effect than Cook expected. In her study, 90 percent of students who had learned algebraic concepts using gestures remembered them three weeks later. Only 33 percent of speech-only students who had learned the concept during instruction later retained the lesson. And perhaps most astonishing of all, 90 percent of students who had learned by gesture alone—no speech at all—recalled what they’d been taught.

I find that both saying what I learn and writing what I learn helps to retain the concepts and information better. Also, getting questioned about recently learned information increases retention.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 July 29 11:24 AM  Brain Performance

Dave Gore said at July 30, 2007 1:25 PM:

Everyone should forward this article to their children's teachers!

Joaquin said at August 29, 2007 9:50 PM:

Can you elaborate on the "physical gesture" please. Thank You

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