“This is the size of one meter”: Children’s bodily-material collaboration

  • Jacob Davidsen
  • Thomas Ryberg


In CSCL studies, language is often foregrounded as the primary resource for engaging in collaborative learning, while the body is more often positioned as a secondary resource. There is, however, a growing interest in the body as a resource in learning and collaboration in and outside CSCL. In this paper, we present, analyse, and discuss how two nine-year-old children collaborate through gesturing and moving their bodies around a touchscreen. The pair is working with the concept of scale and area measurement and are in midst of copying their rooms from paper to touchscreen. During this process, the pair engages in a discussion regarding the size of one meter through language, gestures and manipulation of the material resources. The analysis shows two distinct ways of understanding the length of one meter, which primarily are visible through the children’s gestures and bodily movements. In the analysis we show how the children dynamically produce body-material resources for communicative and illustrative purposes; moreover, they use body-material resources as a cognitive tool and as a way of shepherding each other. The study forms part of a body of studies analysing and theorizing the body in education, learning, and interaction. We discuss the wider impact of our findings and argue how they may challenge and improve studies relying mainly on a coding and counting approach or automated capture of e.g. gestures. In addition, we provide a detailed multimodal representation of the subtle bodily-material resources, which we argue is a modest contribution to a catalogue of ways of representing and making bodily-material resources visible in CSCL research.


Bodily-material resources for learning Embodied meaning-making practices Touchscreens Video analysis Concept of scale Embodied interaction Knowledge building 



This work was supported by the research infrastructure project DIGHUMLAB ( We are grateful to the teachers and children participating in this project. Also the authors would like to thank Rasmus Raun Poulsen, who completed the line drawings.


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© International Society of the Learning Sciences, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Communication and PsychologyAalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark

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