Naomi Sweller

Associate Professor

  • 391 Citations
  • 13 h-Index
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Personal profile


I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology. I conduct research in the broad field of cognitive development, more specifically examining the use of gesture by both child and adult learners and communicators, as well as concept learning by children and adults. I have partnered extensively with researchers in the fields of early childhood education and special education, as well as education more generally.

I completed my doctoral study, titled "Learning and decision processes in classification and feature inference" at UNSW in 2007. After completing Postdoctoral positions at the University of Sydney in the Department of Psychology and at Macquarie University in the then Institute of Early Childhood, I moved to a continuing academic position in the Department of Psychology at Macquarie University.

Research interests

Cognitive development; gesture; learning; communication; early childhood; concept learning


I teach primarily in research methods and statistics. My current teaching duties are on the upper level undergraduate, Honours and Masters of Research statistics units:

  • PSY 349 Design and Statistics III
  • PSY 418 Design and Statistics IV
  • PSYC718 Advanced Research Design and Statistics

Research student supervision

I supervise students on a range of topics, primarily in the areas of:

  • Children’s use of gesture in their reporting of previously experienced events,
  • The use of gesture in performing novel cognitive tasks, and
  • The consequences of both observing and producing gesture for task performance.

Community engagement

I am currently the Chair of the Faculty of Human Sciences Research Ethics Sub-Committee, and a member of the Department of Psychology Learning and Teaching Committee. 

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Gestures Medicine & Life Sciences
parents Social Sciences
child care Social Sciences
teacher Social Sciences
Parents Medicine & Life Sciences
school Social Sciences
childhood Social Sciences
student Social Sciences

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Projects 2009 2022

Research Outputs 2004 2019

A comparison of two models of support for students with autism spectrum disorder in school and predictors of school success

Carter, M., Stephenson, J., Clark, T., Costley, D., Martin, J., Williams, K., Bruck, S., Davies, L., Browne, L. & Sweller, N., Dec 2019, In : Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 68, p. 1-13 13 p., 101452.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Social Adjustment
Autistic Disorder
Psychological Adaptation
Emotional Intelligence
Self Report
Statistical Factor Analysis

Learning stories through gesture: gesture’s effects on child and adult narrative comprehension

Dargue, N. & Sweller, N., 26 Aug 2019, In : Educational Psychology Review.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


When our hands help us understand: a meta-analysis into the effects of gesture on comprehension

Dargue, N., Sweller, N. & Jones, M. P., Aug 2019, In : Psychological Bulletin. 145, 8, p. 765-784 20 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Why do I feel the way I do? Emotional dysregulation and the need to understand the causes of emotions

Gill, D., Warburton, W. & Sweller, N., 4 Sep 2019, In : Current Psychology.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review