After all of the analysis, I have great news. There appears to be some indication that gestures during recall have a basis in visualization, or help to spur that visualization. I think an EEG study of a more random sampling of students would really clean up the results, but I definitely trust that the theory proposed 6 months ago has merit. Also, the hypothesis that was more direct (that students would gesture more during their descriptions of scientific concepts) was confirmed. 15 of 16 subjects gestured more clearly and/or with more frequency when talking about the water cycle than when simply recounting memories of past events.
So that’s wonderful, but not everything was so perfect. There was no indication that perceived ability and/or enjoyment of science produced more or clearer gestures, which seems to suggest that the concepts themselves tend to elicit gestures, not the students’ individual interests or proficiencies in the subject matter.
It’s been a great experience for me, and I’ve gotten great help along the way from a number of more experienced researchers. I could never have done this alone, but they helped me take a large step toward doing just that. Should I continue this research or start new research later, I’ll remember what I’ve learned over the course of this summer.
It’s certainly been a lot.