Doing science by waving hands: Talk, symbiotic gesture, and interaction with digital content as resources in student inquiry
AbstractIn this paper, we investigate some of the ways in which students, when given the opportunity and an appropriate learning environment, spontaneously engage in collaborative inquiry. We studied small groups of high school students interacting around and with an interactive whiteboard equipped with Algodoo software, as they investigated orbital motion. Using multimodal discourse analysis, we found that in their discussions the students relied heavily on nonverbal meaning-making resources, most notably hand gestures and resources in the surrounding environment (items displayed on the interactive whiteboard). They juxtaposed talk with gestures and resources in the environment to communicate ideas that they initially were not able to express using words alone. By spontaneously recruiting and combining a diverse set of meaning-making resources, the students were able to express relatively fluently complex ideas on a novel physics topic, and to engage in practices that resemble a scientific approach to exploration of new phenomena.