The use of gesture by young children and their teachers : a classroom based study of gestural behaviours in grouped tasks
Background: It is not currently known how Year 1 Primary school pupils and their teachers use activity-related-gestures and targeting, during group-based task-activity in a working classroom. Airn: To explore this context using two teacher 'settings': 'teacher-out-of-the-group' (TOG) and 'teacher-in-the-group' JIG), informed by an ecological, affordancesbased, psychological perspective. Sample: Twenty-five observations of pupil groups (12 TOG, 13 TIG), involving two schools, four teachers and 49 pupils, working in groups of up to six pupils. Method: Non-video-based, systematic, participant observation in working classrooms. Results: No statistical differences were apparent when girls' and boys' mean use of particular categories of gesture, targeting and task-activity were compared (underlying variability between participants may have influenced this lack of difference). Significant differences with their teachers were apparent. However, within and between settings, and within task-groups, some evidence of subtle differences between girls' and boys' overall gesture-use, targeting and task-activity profiles were identified. Extensive differences with their teachers were also apparent. Correlation analysis revealed that girls and boys showed limited and different associations in the two settings. Case studies revealed that a teacher, when part of a group, became the principal target for gestural activity, dominating pupil gestural and targeting activity. Limited evidence suggested that Partnering could affect gestural activity and task-activity. Teachers overwhelmingly used speech, rather than gesture, for communicative purposes, particularly in the TIG setting. Pupils used more gesture than did teachers in both settings. Conclusions: Teacher and pupil role, pupil gender, task-structure, using shared resources and, to some extent, partnering, are key factors relating to pupil and teacher gesture-use, targeting and task-activity. Arguably girls, boys and teachers bring different saliencies and expectations to the same group activities, as revealed in their gesture-use, targeting and task-activity. The implications for classroom practice, and gesture-in-action in the working classroom, are discussed.