Monday, October 18, 2010 - 16:00
Wngr 153
Event Speaker: 
Rachel E. Scherr, Hunter G. Close, Sarah B. McKagan, and Eleanor W. Close
Local Contact: 
Dedra Demaree

The Paradigms Project at Oregon State University and the Energy Project at Seattle Pacific University share an interest in what we call "embodied learning activities" (ELAs), in which instructors deliberately arrange for human bodies, or parts of the body, to stand in for entities in the description or explanation of a phenomenon. These activities are compelling partly for "classroom" reasons: they are life-size, they force participation and consensus, they prompt individual decision-making and imaginative play, and they encourage multiple modes of expression including gestures, body orientation, and movement. ELAs are also compelling from an embodied cognition theoretical perspective: Our brains are fundamentally processors of sensory-motor information, and our neural mechanism for understanding abstractions (such as love or energy) is embodied metaphor. In particular, mentally taking on the role of an entity in a physics phenomenon and symbolically re-enacting the (perhaps metaphorical) movement of that entity appears to be particularly helpful for figuring out physical theories. We will analyze ELAs from both of our institutions in an effort to better understand their potential for learners, instructors, and researchers.