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Embodied cognition as a framework for understanding science and sustainability


Niebert, Kai; Gropengiesser, Harald (2015). Embodied cognition as a framework for understanding science and sustainability. In: Biannual Meeting: Science Education Research: engaging learners for a sustainable future, Helsinki, 31 August 2015 - 4 September 2015, online.

Abstract

A review of the literature over the past decades shows how teachers and researchers have probed various external representations for teaching science and sustainability issues. These empirical findings give evidence for what every science teacher knows from his own practise: Some representations are more effective than others. We approach this issue based on the theoretical framework of embodied cognition that we utilize to analyse, explain and predict meaningful learning: Research has shown that metaphorical mappings between experience-based source domains and abstract target domains are omnipresent in everyday and scientific language. The theoretical framework of embodied cognition explains these findings based on the assumption that understanding is embodied. Embodied understanding arises from recurrent bodily and social experience with our environment. As our perception is adapted to a medium scale dimension, our embodied conceptions originate from this mesocosmic scale. With respect to this epistemological principle we distinguish between micro-, meso-and macrocosmic phenomena. We use these insights to analyse how external representations of phenomena in the micro-and macrocosm can foster learning when they a) address the students' learning demand by affording a mesocosmic experience or b) assist the reflection on embodied conceptions by representing their image-schematic structure. We base our considerations on empirical evidence from teaching experiments on phenomena from the microcosm (microbial growth, signal conduction in neurons) and the macrocosm (greenhouse effect, carbon cycle). We discuss how embodied cognition can inform the development of external representations

Abstract

A review of the literature over the past decades shows how teachers and researchers have probed various external representations for teaching science and sustainability issues. These empirical findings give evidence for what every science teacher knows from his own practise: Some representations are more effective than others. We approach this issue based on the theoretical framework of embodied cognition that we utilize to analyse, explain and predict meaningful learning: Research has shown that metaphorical mappings between experience-based source domains and abstract target domains are omnipresent in everyday and scientific language. The theoretical framework of embodied cognition explains these findings based on the assumption that understanding is embodied. Embodied understanding arises from recurrent bodily and social experience with our environment. As our perception is adapted to a medium scale dimension, our embodied conceptions originate from this mesocosmic scale. With respect to this epistemological principle we distinguish between micro-, meso-and macrocosmic phenomena. We use these insights to analyse how external representations of phenomena in the micro-and macrocosm can foster learning when they a) address the students' learning demand by affording a mesocosmic experience or b) assist the reflection on embodied conceptions by representing their image-schematic structure. We base our considerations on empirical evidence from teaching experiments on phenomena from the microcosm (microbial growth, signal conduction in neurons) and the macrocosm (greenhouse effect, carbon cycle). We discuss how embodied cognition can inform the development of external representations

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper), refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Education
Dewey Decimal Classification:370 Education
Language:English
Event End Date:4 September 2015
Deposited On:13 Jan 2016 14:19
Last Modified:07 Mar 2017 10:29
Publisher:ESERA
Related URLs:http://www.esera.org/ (Organisation)

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Language: English
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