Project Team

Susan WagnHelping Handser Cook

Dr. Cook is a leading expert on the functional role of hand gesture for both speakers and listeners. She is currently an assistant professor at the University of Iowa where she investigates the role of gesture in communication and learning. For more information, please visit her website at:


Kimberly Fenn

Dr. Fenn’s expertise lies primarily in the role of sleep-dependent consolidation in learning and memory. Her research focuses broadly on learning and memory with special foci on false memory and physiological contributions to learning and memory. She is currently an associate professor at Michigan State University. For more information, please visit her website at:


The Team

Drs. Cook and Fenn first met in graduate school at the University of Chicago. Both began their faculty positions in 2008 and realized that their combined strengths in learning, gesture, and sleep, would make them an ideal team to investigate the role of gesture and consolidation in STEM learning. In their first collaborative study, they found that hand gesture improved both learning and transfer of learning of mathematical equivalence in children. Even more interesting, they found that performance actually improved across a 24-hour delay when instruction included hand gesture. In contrast, no improvement was seen after a delay when children learned without gesture. To learn more about this study, you can read a popular press account of it here:

or read the full manuscript here: