Embodiment and situated learning

University essay from Högskolan i Skövde/Institutionen för kommunikation och information

Abstract: Cognition has for a long time been viewed as a process that can be described in terms of computational symbol manipulation, i.e. a process that takes place inside people’s heads and is largely unaffected by contextual aspects. In recent years, however, there has been a considerable change in the way researchers look at and study human cognition. These changes also have far-reaching implications for education and educational research. Situated learning is a theoretical framework in which sociocultural aspects of cognition and learning are strongly emphasised, that is, the context in which learning takes place is an important part of learning activity. The concept of activity is central to situated learning theories, but activity has been considered an exclusively sociocultural process in which the body only plays a minor role. In embodied cognition research, on the other hand, there is an increasing awareness that mind and body are inextricably intertwined and cannot be viewed in isolation. Findings in cognitive neuroscience provide additional evidence that cognition is tightly linked to perception and action. The aim of this thesis has been to investigate the role of the body in situated learning activity by integrating these different perspectives on cognition and learning. The analysis suggests that, like individual human conceptualization and thought, situated learning is in fact deeply rooted in bodily activity. In social interactions the body provides individuals with a similar perspective on the world, it functions as a means of signalling to others what cannot (yet) be expressed verbally, and it serves as a resonance mechanism in the understanding of others.

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