Geometry lies at the heart not only of mathematics, but also of other subject-matter domains, such as physics, biology, chemistry, geography, art, architecture, etc. (Sarama & Clements, 2009). According to Usiskin (1997) who is an important researcher in mathematics, geometry is the domain that links mathematics with the real, physical world and should start in the earliest years of education.
Many research studies provide support to the importance of educational experiences in geometry. Early experiences are essential, as the concepts of geometrical figures begin developing in the preschool years and become stable as early as the age of six (Gagatsis & Patronis, 1990).
Gestures are considered as important components of the communication system, providing a tool to convey information (Goldin-Meadow, 2000; McNeill, 1992). Furthermore, there is an established and increasing focus in mathematics education research concerned with gestures in mathematical situations and classrooms contexts (Goldin-Meadow, 2004; Cook & Goldin-Meadow, 2006). Gestures can serve as a representational tool of various mathematical ideas through which children can get a deeper level of consciousness of their meaning.
This project aims at giving insight into the nature and role of gestures, and the variation that gestures and speech undergo in communicating and building understanding of geometrical concepts at a kindergarten level.
Furthermore, it aims to examine whether a geometry teaching approach which promotes the production of specific mathematics-related iconic gestures and the dynamics between gestures, discourse and other semiotic resources (e.g., visual representations of geometrical figures), can contribute to the development of young children's geometrical figure apprehension.
The project is supported by a research grant from A.G. Leventis Foundation.
Cook, S. W., & Goldin-Meadow, S. (2006). The role of gesture in learning: Do children use their hands to change their minds? Journal of Cognition & Development, 7(2), 211-232.
Gagatsis, A., & Patronis, T. (1990). Using geometrical models in a process of reflective thinking in learning and teaching mathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 21(1), 29-54.
Goldin-Meadow, S. (2004). Hearing gesture: How our hands help us think. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Goldin-Meadow, S. (2000). Beyond words: the importance of gesture to researchers and learners. Child Development, 71(1), 231-239.
McNeill, D. (1992). Hand and mind: What gestures reveal about thought. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Sarama, J., & Clements, D. H. (2009). Early childhood mathematics education research: Learning trajectories for young children. New York: Routledge.
Usiskin, Z. (1997). The implications of geometry for all. Journal of Mathematics Education Leadership, 1(3), 5-16.