Embodied Cognition in mathematics

Many of us are actively involved with the Embodied Mathematical Imagination & Cognition Working Group and Community

Erin Ottmar is one of the founding members of the EMIC group (Along with Mitch Nathan, Martha Alibali, Dor Abrahamson, Caro Williams-Pierce, Candace Walkington, and Hortensia Soto)

This community is focused on the following guiding questions.

1. Embodied design. How should embodiment inform the design of STEM educational experiences? Embodied design, a pedagogical framework, draws on principles of genetic epistemology, Enactivism, ecological dynamics, and cultural–historical psychology to engage students’ naturalistic sensorimotor capacity and stage opportunities for guided negotiation between grounded ways of knowing and mathematical forms and practices.

2. Action–cognition transduction. How do actions change one’s mind? Action–cognition transduction explains how body movement can induce mental states that mediate sense making, inference, and proof.

3. Gesture and multimodality studies. How do gestures influence STEM teaching and learning? Gesture and multimodality studies reveal how mathematics teaching and learning is embodied and used to ground formalisms and abstractions to the physical environment, support simulated action of mathematical ideas, and invoke conceptual blends and metaphors.

4. Collaborative gesture. Do people studying mathematics gesture together and, if so, how does doing this support learning? Collaborative gesture is a natural, collective discursive behavior that can be leveraged as an effective pedagogical practice.

5. Graspable Math. How does abstract thinking arise from concrete experiences? Graspable math engages the perceptual–motor system to reify the hierarchical structure of algebraic formalisms.

6. Playful learning. Why might STEM education need opportunities for playful learning? Playful learning constitutes a set of principles for motivating content learning through engaging in technology-based joyful challenging tasks.

7. Embodiment perspectives on teacher education. How should embodiment inform the design of teacher education and professional development? Embodiment perspectives on teacher education looks to involve multiple stakeholders, including university professors, who should all be informed by the promise of embodiment pedagogy.

We have held multiple workshops and conferences around this topic and collaboratively work together to move this work further. The website can be found below at embodiedmathematics.com