Natalie Dowling

PhD Candidate
University of Chicago
Department of Comparative Human Development


I am a doctoral researcher interested in the development of multimodal discourse, higher-order thinking, and pragmatic language skills between early childhood and adolescence, and how early success in these skills may be predictors of later educational outcomes and the transition into adulthood. I examine the functions of co-speech gesture as children become collaborative conversationalists.

Research Areas


Language development


Multimodal communication


Stance-taking in face-to-face interaction


Higher-order thinking talk

My Approach

As part of the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago, I share a commitment to an interdisciplinary research approach to the study of communicative development. Using a longitudinal corpus of spontaneous parent-child interaction, my work combines elements of conversation analysis with formal speech and gesture coding to investigate how the tools of cooperative conversation change over development.