The role of the body, particularly gesture, in supporting mathematical reasoning is an emerging area of research in mathematics education. In the present study, we examine undergraduate students providing a justification for a task about a system of alternating gears, which involves concepts of number relating to even/odd patterns. Some participants were directed to perform gestures relevant to alternation and parity before attempting their justification, while others were not. Although these directed actions did not seem to influence the gestures participants used to solve the problem, we found an important relationship between gesture and mathematical reasoning. In particular, certain types of gestures during problem solving were associated with valid justifications. This research provides insight into the link between action and mathematical reasoning, and has implications for supporting students’ proof activities.
Boncoddo, R., Williams, C.C., Waala, J., Walkington, C., Pier, E., Dogan, M.F., Nathan, M., & Alibali, M. (2013, November). Gesture as a window to justification and proof. In M.V. Martinez & A.C. Superfine (Eds.), Proceedings of the 35th annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (pp. 229-236). Chicago, IL: University of Illinois at Chicago.