To Trace or Not to Trace? Mimicry in Timed Multimedia Lessons with Pointing and Tracing

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Educational Psychology Review


Performing hand gestures such as pointing and tracing while learning is an area of increasing focus in educational research. Previous studies have demonstrated that learners who performed these gestures while engaging with static paper- or computer-based learning materials performed better on posttests in multiple learning areas, such as mathematics, health sciences and language learning. In this paper, the effects of mimicking pointing and tracing gestures during a timed multimedia lesson on an iPad are investigated. Participants were asked to mimic or observe pointing and tracing gestures while engaging with timed multimedia worked-examples in geometry. Results did not replicate previous findings and instead showed that participants who performed pointing and tracing gestures achieved lower test scores than those who did not. Factors leading to these results are discussed, including redundancy of presented and performed hand gestures, the management of multiple modalities, the timed nature of worked example videos used and the studying of optimised learning materials. When considering these results, future research may consider the effects of pointing and tracing gestures when engaging in complex multimedia learning environments.

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