Paula Marentette, PhD

Professor, Augustana - Social Sciences


Professor, Augustana - Social Sciences
(780) 679-1188
3-04 AG01 Founders Hall
4901-46 Ave
Camrose AB
T4V 2R3



I am a developmental psycholinguist. I use gesture as a means to explore how children think about and understand the world. I am particularly interested in iconicity and how children think about the form and function of objects and actions in their world. I use gesture as an indicator of how children map that information and reveal it with their hands and bodies.


Representational Gesture and Symbolic Development

This study explores 3-year-olds and adults using a between-subjects task in which children are asked to tell a puppet how to use everyday objects or show the puppet how to use them. Data collection for this project is now complete (only 2 children short of the goal due to COVID-19, sigh).

Pilot study results:

Marentette, P., & Inaba, C. (2017). Iconic representation of form and function in pantomime and gesture. Poster presented at Types of Iconicity in Language Use, Development and Processing, Iconicity Focus Group Workshop, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, July 6-7.

Autobiographical and Fictional Narratives

This study examines narrative development in the 8- to 11-year-old age group. In particular, we asked children to tell some stories about their own experiences and to watch a cartoon and retell that story. 

Marentette, P. Furman, R., Suvanto, M., and Nicoladis, E. (in press, 2020). Pantomime (not silent gesture) in multimodal communication: Evidence from children's narratives. Frontiers in Psychology, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.575952

Marentette, P., Suvanto, M., Furman, R., MacLurg, A., & Nicoladis, E. (2018). Intraindividual differences in iconic gesture use in children's narratives. Paper presented at International Society for Gesture Studies, Cape Town, South Africa, July 4-8.

Marentette, P., Suvanto, M., Furman, R., & Nicoladis, E. (2017). Pantomime and gesture in children's narratives: Are they distinct? Poster presented at Language as a Form of Action, Rome, June 21-23.

Marentette, P., Furman, R., MacLurg, A., Suvanto, M., & Nicoladis, E. (2016). Children’s use of depiction in autobiographical and fictional narratives. Paper presented at the Embodied and Situated Language Processing Conference, Pucón, Chile, October 6-9.


There is a strong parallel between what I teach and how I teach. I am a developmental psychologist, with a particular interest in cognitive development. I teach students about how children think and how their thinking changes over the course of development. My primary objective for students is to increase the rigour and sophistication of their own thought (that is, I expect their thinking processes to change with their own development). Given this, it is not a surprise that I apply the principles I teach to the students I am teaching.

Courses Taught

PSY 213 - Statistical Methods for Psychology

PSY 361/362 - Cognitive Development

PSY 373 - Psycholinguistics 

PSY 471 - Language Acquisition

LAN 101 - Introduction to Linguistic Analysis


AULAN 101 - Introduction to Linguistic Analysis

Central concepts of linguistics: linguistic categories and structure (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics).

Fall Term 2020
AUPSY 213 - Statistical Methods for Psychological Research

Application of statistical methods to psychological problems. Various experimental and non-experimental methods will be introduced. Topics include the scientific method, quantitative research designs, sampling and measuring techniques, biases in experimentation and ethical issues, measures of central tendency and variability, and tests of statistical hypothesis. Students will become familiar with the American Psychological Association (APA) standards of research and writing. Prerequisite: Mathematics 30-1 or 30-2. Note: Credit may be obtained for only one of AUPSY 213, AUSTA 213, 215.

Winter Term 2021
AUPSY 497 - Individual Study I

Literature review and proposal (including an oral report) for fourth-year thesis. Prerequisites: AUPSY 313, fourth-year standing, and consent of the Instructor. Notes: Admission to AUPSY 497 normally requires a grade point average of at least 3.5. An Application for Individual Study must be completed and approved before registration in the course. The course is intended for a student planning to pursue graduate studies in Psychology. AUPSY 497 is to be followed by AUPSY 499.

Fall Term 2020
AUPSY 499 - Individual Study II

Fourth-year thesis research, report, and oral presentation. Prerequisite: AUPSY 497. Note: Admission to AUPSY 499 normally requires a grade point average of at least 3.5. An Application for Individual Study must be completed and approved before registration in the course.

Winter Term 2021
AUSSC 300 - Selected Topics in Social Sciences

Selected topics in the study of Social Sciences. Content may vary from course to course. Topics and credit value announced prior to registration period. Prerequisite: Varies according to topic.

Fall Term 2020
AUSTA 213 - Statistical Methods

Frequency distributions, averages, dispersion, simple linear regression and correlation, elementary probability, binomial and normal distributions, sampling distributions, confidence intervals, significance tests on means and variances, chi square tests for two way tables, introduction to the analysis of variance. Labs include projects in which a student collects and analyzes real data. Prerequisite: Mathematics 30-1 or 30-2. Notes: The course does not count toward the major in Mathematics and Physics or the minor in Mathematics. Credit may be obtained for only one of AUSTA 213, 215, AUPSY 213.

Winter Term 2021 Winter Term 2022

Browse more courses taught by Paula Marentette

Scholarly Activities

Research - Undergraduate Student Research

Participating in a research project gives students the opportunity to practice much of what they learn about psychology and its methods in class. My students work on projects with children and adults, but all involve language and gesture. The independent projects of former students include:

Danielle King (Sept 20 - April 21). Ambiguity in children's narratives: Pronouns and cohesion (temporary title)

Jennifer Green (Sept 19 - April 20). "Gesture and language go hand in hand: A study on bimodal bilingualism"

Amy Lechelt (Sept 16 - April 17). "Gestural communication in children with motor speech disorders." 

Chelsea Inaba (Sept 16 - April 17). "The presence of speech in children's gesture: Does it make a difference?" 

Marcus Suvanto (Sept 15 - April 16). "Symbolic representation in children: A meta-analysis of elicited pantomime research" 

Carissa Ferguson (Sept 15-April 16). "Revising the Picture Naming Game (PiNG): Increasing spontaneous gestures."

Sarah Brown (Sept 14-April 15) “Let me show you what I know: Image, word and gesture in two-year-old children.”

Heather Holte (Sept 09-April 10) “Thinking with gesture: The role of asynchrony in packaging information.”

Megan Hogendoorn (Sept 09-April 10) “Exploring the relationship between beat gestures and narrative levels in bilinguals.”

Amanda Zerebeski MacLurg (Sept 08-Apr 09) “Show me a story: The function of gestures in the narratives that children tell.”

Brandy Webster Vasseur (Jan 07-Dec 07) “The independent gesture system: a study of what happens to gesture when speech becomes absent.”

Collette Tovee (Jan 07-Apr 07) “’Smash!’ Constructed action in Deaf and CODA children’s narratives.”

Lindsay Jack Faas (Sep 05-Apr 06) “Language at hand: The ability of gesture to indicate linguistic functioning.”

Chaundra Ford Sardoff (Jan 05- Dec 05) “Prelinguistic gesture and early sign: The underlying relationship.”

AJ Tolton (Sep 04-Apr 05) “The uses of gesture to increase comprehension.”

Jacqueline Kuefler (Sep 04-Apr 05) “Gesture use and the elderly population.”

Nazya Lakhani-Vogelsang (Sep 03-Apr 04) “Transparency vs. Iconicity: A comparison of the gestures of signers and speakers.”

Augustana University College 

Adrienne Smith (Sep 03-Apr 04) “The role of gesture in the narrative process.”

Sheila Harrison (Sep 99-Apr 00) “This is mine paper: An investigation of possessive pronoun acquisition.”

Penny Anderson (Sep 98-Apr 99) “Accuracy of the body schema in children between 17- and 30-months-of-age.”

Rania Nader Page (Sep 97 Apr 97) “Imitation of hand signs: Mental rotation vs. mirror reversal.”

Karyn Morrison (Sep 95 Apr 96) “Mutual exclusivity and categorization skills: How cognitive development shows itself in children’s linguistic abilities.”

Shane Hiebert (Sep 95 Apr 96) “A test of the dual encoding hypothesis in blind braille readers.”

Pascale Girouard, McGill University (Sep 89 Apr 90) “Hand preference as evidence for laterality of language in the early stages of sign language acquisition.”


Pantomime (not silent gesture) in multimodal communication: Evidence from children's narratives
Author(s): Marentette, P., Furman, R., Suvanto, M., & Nicoladis, E.
Publication Date: 11/4/2020
Publication: Frontiers in Psychology
External Link:
How many fingers am I holding up? The answer depends on children's language background.
Author(s): Elena Nicoladis, Paula Marentette, Simone Pika
Publication Date: 12/5/2018
Publication: Developmental Science
Volume: 24
Issue: 4
External Link:
Young children show little sensitivity to the iconicity in number gestures
Author(s): Elena Nicoladis, Paula Marentette, Simone Pika, Poliana Gonçalves Barbosa
Publication Date: 3/15/2018
Publication: Language Learning and Development
Volume: 14
Issue: 4
Page Numbers: 297-319
External Link:
Gesture and symbolic representation in Italian and English-speaking Canadian two-year-olds
Author(s): Paula Marentette, Paola Pettenati, Arianna Bello, & Virginia Volterra
Publication Date: 5/1/2016
Publication: Child Development
Volume: 87
Issue: 3
Page Numbers: 944-961
External Link: