Church Profile Pic
Ruth (Breckie)
Professor Emeritus
College of Arts and Sciences
Gesture, cognition and learning
Courses Taught
Senior seminar: Special topics
Child Psychology
Adolescent Psychology
History of psychology
General Psychology
Child Development Research Lab
Research Interests
The role of gesture production and comprehension in language, thinking, learning and communication.

Ph.D The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

B.A. Coe College, Cedar rapids, IA

Selected Publications

Church, R.B. (2012). It’s Not Just about Drawing and Language…It’s Really about Reconceptualizing the Roles of Nature and Nurture: Commentary on Cohn. Human Development: 199–204.

 Alibali, M.A., Nathan, M.J., Wolfgram, M.S., Kim, S., Church, R. B. and Knuth, E.(2013). Teachers’ gesture and speech in early algebra lessons: Forging common ground and resolving trouble spots.  ZDM Journal of Education: Special Issue on "Classroom-based interventions in mathematics education.”

 Alibali, M.W., Nathan, M.J., Wolfgram, M.S., Church, R.B., Jacobs, S.A., Johnson, C.V., Knuth, E.J. (2013). How Teachers Link Representations in Mathematics Instruction Using Speech and Gesture: A Corpus Analysis. Cognition and Instruction.

 Church, R.B., Kelly, S.D. and Holcomb, D. (2013). Temporal Synchrony between Speech, Action and Gesture during Language Production. Language and Cognitive Processes.

 Alibali, M.W., Young, A.G., Crooks, N., Yeo, A., Wolfgram, M.S., Nathan, M., Church, R.B., Knuth, E. (2013). Students Learn more when their Teacher has Learned to Gesture Effectively. 

Selected Exhibitions



Research Interests: Mechanisms of normal cognitive development, the role of non-verbal behavior as an index of cognitive transition and instability in mathematical and science understanding, with a primary focus on inclusion of undergraduate minority students in her research programs in an effort to promote their entrance into fields that have traditionally underrepresented minorities.

Administration: Dr. R.B. Church has been a PI for a CDC funded grant that implemented and examined the effects of high risk behavior interventions for children of one of the most impoverished housing projects in Chicago and a PI for a number of Spencer Foundation Small grants evaluating the effects of math instruction in middle school-aged children in both public and private schools in the city of Chicago. She has been a Co-PI on two grants (IES and NSF) that examine the role of gesture in mathematics education and a co-PI on the NIH foundation’s Maximizing Access to Research Careers grant.

Northeastern Illinois University
5500 North St. Louis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625
United States

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By email.
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Curriculum Vitae