Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, EDUCATION ( (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2020. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 24 February 2020

Summary and Keywords

Embodied cognition theories are different from traditional theories of cognition in that they specifically focus on the mind–body connection. This shift in our understanding of how knowledge is acquired challenges Cartesian, as well as computational theories of cognition that emphasize the body as a “passive” observer to brain functions, and necessary only in the execution of motor actions. Historically, mental representations within the brain were typically considered abstractions of the original information (i.e., mental representations). Accordingly, these amodal (disembodied) theories provided the knowledge used in cognitive processes, but did not reflect the original sensorimotor states themselves. In contrast, Embodied cognition provides a starting point to advance our understanding of how perceptual, sensorimotor and multisensory approaches facilitate and encourage learning throughout the lifespan. Derived from embodied cognition, embodied learning constitutes a contemporary pedagogical theory of knowing and learning that emphasizes the use of the body in educational practice. Embodied learning approaches scientifically endorse and advance sensorimotor learning, as well as offer potentially useful tools for educators. This article begins with a discussion on the historical progression of embodied understanding in the disciplines of philosophy, cognitive psychology, and neuroscience, with a focus on how embodied cognition differs from traditional models of cognition. Empirical evidence from varied field domains (e.g., reading, handwriting, STEM fields, haptic technology, mixed reality, and special education) are presented that show how embodied learning increases and facilitates learning and memory. Discussions within each content area draw upon embodied principles and show why the reviewed techniques facilitate learning. Also discussed are examples on how these principles can be further integrated into educational curriculum, with an eye toward the learner as a unified whole.

Keywords: embodied cognition, embodied learning, classroom body-based learning, multisensory

Access to the complete content on Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.