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The Hidden Elements of Teaching: Why Body Language Matters

The Hidden Elements of Teaching: Why Body Language Matters

Getting a good command of your gestures, facial expressions and posture could help you improve your classroom instruction, a new study has found.

Research from Austrian education scientists indicates that body language is a pivotal component in how teachers reach students.

"Education scientists from the University of Graz investigated this aspect for the first time in a project supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF. Bernd Hackl, head of the Institute for Teacher Education, and his team explored the significance of teachers' nonverbal communication, or, more precisely, corporal expressions and physical communication, during classroom interaction,” according to

Correctly using body language to captivate students is described by the researchers as winning over an “unpredictable audience” similar to how an actor operates.

"It is teachers' body language which gives them credibility and determines whether learning processes will be fostered, or not, as the case may be," lead researcher Bernd Hackl said, according to the article.

While body language in the classroom rarely gets discussed as a tool for implementing learning, Hackl says his team’s research indicates a time for a change.

As teachers aim to fulfill four repetitive goals (providing a relaxed setting for learning, integrating the learners in a collaborative school environment, challenging pre-existing knowledge and skills, and, finally, being able to demonstrate such knowledge and skills to the students and thereby make the mastering of them easier), the researchers say that their attempt to do all four simultaneously leads to a phenomenon where teachers’ words and body language drift apart, resulting in a non-ideal learning situation.

"Although the students will not be aware of this fact, let alone be able to [verbalize] it, they can nevertheless sense it and thus withdraw from learning activities in what seems to be a demotivated manner.”

Read the full article here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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