Conference paper accompanying a poster presentation at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), San Diego, CA.
Evidence is discussed for the spontaneous use of three types of scientific reasoning by high school students in whole class discussions. In two case studies, we identify multiple instances of students generating analogies, extreme cases, and Gedanken experiments and document their predominant association with spontaneous depictive gestures. Most were associated with gestures that appeared to depict motion or force, which are interpreted here as indicators of the use of animated mental imagery. We believe these issues warrant further study because it is possible that these processes, along with depictive gestures, allow students to share visual or kinesthetic meanings situated in exemplars in a way that allows the discussion to make sense to a greater number of students.
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