Embodied Cognition

It feels like the brain research of Howard Gardner has come and gone between the time I got my Master’s Degree in 2002 and now, just 12 years later. I wonder whether some teachers do live by its philosophy, while others just didn’t hop on board that particular train.

One aspect of Gardner’s work that fascinated me was the idea of kinesthetic learning. Faculty at Hanyang Cyber University in South Korea have demonstrated that physical manipulation improves memory and problem-solving performance. Moreover, according to The Hechinger Report, “Taking action in response to information, in addition to simply seeing or hearing it, creates a richer memory trace and supplies alternative avenues for recalling the memory later on.”

Although not every learner relies on concrete experiences, and I have actually seen it be too convoluted to help in some cases, many students have better understood topics like integer subtraction, combining like terms, the Distributive Property, and similar figures using manipulatives in my math classroom. It’s nice to see research backing it up.



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