Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Educational Psychology & Higher Education

First Committee Member

Steven G. McCafferty

Second Committee Member

LeAnn Putney

Third Committee Member

Gwen Marchand

Fourth Committee Member

Jesus Garcia

Number of Pages



Motivationis an integral part of learning; Gestures are an important aspect of human communication, and culture plays a significant role in shaping all of these human elements. This study explores the relationship betweensocial, cultural-historical activityand second language(L2) gesture acquisitionas student motivations both drive, and emanate from, the L2 learning process. Six American students participating in a study-abroad program in Chile were evaluated at three different levels of L2 proficiency (beginning, intermediate, and advanced) for L2 gesture articulations and motivational developments. During the semester-long investigation, three audio-video recorded interviews were conducted to observe L2 gestural behaviors, and two e-mail logs were collected to supplement research evaluations of student motivations and activity.

Results from the study's observations indicated that L2 proficiency level did not relate to student motivations, L2 gesture acquisition, or activity with any justifiable support. However, overall findings did reveal a relationship between L2 gesture acquisition and cultural activity, withanxietyandlearner agencyfound to mediate this relationship. Specifically, students who were found to produce the most L2 gesture forms were those who reported having the most frequentnative speaker interactions--a cultural activity that was both pursued and internalized differently as individual learner agency and anxiety influenced student goals. Implications of this investigation maintain that psycholinguistic investigations of L2 learning and development can benefit from the acknowledgment of gesture as a fundamental component of communication as it aids in the illustration ofsecond language developmentas an emerging process.


Activity theory; Anxiety; Language and languages – Study and teaching; Learner agency; Learning; Psychology of; Motivation in education; Motivational development; Native speaker interaction; Second language acquisition; Second language learning; Speech and gesture


Education | Educational Psychology | Linguistics | Sociology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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