Paula Marentette, PhD

Professor, Augustana - Social Sciences


Professor, Augustana - Social Sciences
(780) 679-1188
3-04 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 complete.

Marentette, P., Inaba, C., & Petrie, R. (2024). Symbolic distancing in three-year-old children’s object-use pantomime. In P. Żywiczyński, J. Blomberg & M. Boruta-Żywiczyńska (Eds.), Perspectives on Pantomime (pp. 190-218). Benjamins.

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. (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

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 their classes. My students work on projects with children and adults, but all involve language and gesture. The independent projects of former students include:

Ava Lang (Sept - Dec 23). "A new perspective on how children learn to use objects"

Danielle King (Sept 20 - April 21). "Exploring ambiguity within children's narratives"

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.”

Featured Publications

Marentette, P., Furman, R., Suvanto, M., & Nicoladis, E.

Frontiers in Psychology. 2020 November;

Elena Nicoladis, Paula Marentette, Simone Pika

Developmental Science. 2018 December; 24 (4)

Paula Marentette, Paola Pettenati, Arianna Bello, & Virginia Volterra

Child Development. 2016 May; 87 (3):944-961