2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 156-5
Presentation Time: 2:35 PM


VAN BOENING, Angela, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77840 and RIGGS, Eric M., College of Geosciences, Texas A&M University, Room 202, Eller O&M Building, MS 3148 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843, AMVPN6@tamu.edu

Students are commonly observed using gestures in field settings as they explain and work through geologic problems. Studies have documented intentional use of gesture when describing and thinking through problems in stratigraphy and structural geology. What remains to be described is the full range and taxonomy of gestures used broadly in field settings and what information is trying to be communicated by their use and their role in geological reasoning. This study focuses on identifying the types of gestures that are commonly used by students in the field. 125 students participated in this study throughout three summer field camps. Students were recorded in the field as they worked through various assignments common to most geologic field camps, specifically projects in stratigraphy, sedimentology, geologic mapping and structural analysis. Unscripted dialogue was captured along with candid gestures in order to observe “naturally occurring”, spontaneous gestures. We are systematically cataloging these gestures and also correlating the co-occurring language being used in order to develop a more complete understanding of the meaning behind each gesture and the context and purpose for their use. The gestures of interest include both static and dynamic variations of “pointing”, “flat-hand”, “framing” and “domain” gestures. In nearly every interaction with a student, they use some form of these gestures when explaining, interpreting or questioning what they are seeing, though it is not yet clear if a particular type of gesture is used more frequently in a given situation. What is clear is that students will utilize rock outcrops and their field surroundings in conjunction with gestures as they communicate their ideas. This is in contrast to observations of students communicating similar geologic concepts without access to in-situ geologic features. This setting favors verbal constructions of concepts with the full suite of metamorphic gestures, consistent with observations from other studies. These results suggest that gesture use is dependent on contextual supports for reasoning and also lends support to ideas developed in related studies that the classic classification of gesture as deictic, iconic or metaphoric may be too basic to capture the range and purpose of gesture use in geological reasoning in the field.