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Representational Gestures as Cognitive Artifacts for Developing Theories in a Scientific Laboratory

  • Amaya Becvar
  • James Hollan
  • Edwin Hutchins
Part of the Computer Supported Cooperative Work book series (CSCW)

Abstract

This research examines how representational gestures (Kita 2000), made by scientists during collaborative discussion in a biochemistry lab, are used in formulating scientific theory. By analyzing digital video of lab meetings and interviews, we find that representational gestures are frequently used to reference, modify, and embody portions of existing material structure such as models, diagrams, and graphs. Representational gestures appear to play a significant role in how scientists both conceptualize and communicate theories. We believe that representational gestures operate as instantiations of essential spatio-dynamic features that are not efficiently conveyed in other modalities, like language and graphical representations, and, as such, are essential resources for shaping theoretical understandings when used in collaborative, face-to-face activity. Gestures may also serve to align cognitive processes in a “community of practice” (Lave 1991) and can package theoretical conjectures into a single semiotic form that can be used symbolically to evoke a rich, shared conceptual history. We use a theoretical framework provided by distributed cognition and embodied cognition to examine jointly shared representational gestures as cognitive artifacts produced and modified by the biochemistry lab community during the practice of theory construction.

Keywords

Augmented Reality Hand Shape Representational Form Cognitive Artifact Iconic Gesture 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amaya Becvar
  • James Hollan
  • Edwin Hutchins

There are no affiliations available

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