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Situated and Distributed Cognition

- SCog: Learning is participation; it is situated and context dependent

- DCog: Intelligence is distributed across time, tools, people and activities

- Connection: Both of these social theories take our environment into account
- Learning consists of multiple internal and external factors


Embodied Cognition: Historical Perspective

- Rejects Descartes' notion of dualism (i.e., the mind and body are separate

- The brain is not disembodied like a brain in a jar

- Our brains affect and are affected by our bodies


Embodied Cognition: Defined

- Embodied cognition comprises a group of theories

- Cognitive processes are deeply rooted in our bodies' interaction with the environment
- The way we think is shaped by the way we exist in the world

- Three domains that demonstrate the embodied nature of cognition
- Body
- Gesture
- Language


The Role of the Body

- How we change our bodies based on our cognition:
- Body leaning (Past/future)
- Room temperature (Snubbed/Accepted)
- Cleaning hands (Dark past)
- Weight (Importance)

- How we change our cognition based on our bodies:
- Holding coffee (Warm/Cold People)
- Botox (Facial expressions and emotions)
- Power Poses (Physical stance and feelings of power)


The Role of Gesture

- Our hands are not simply a communicative tool

- They help us think, and they shape our cognition

- Research has shown that gesture is an important cognitive tool


Gesture in Learning Contexts

Evidence shows

- Teachers can alter their gesture use to improve instruction

- Students perform better when teachers gesture more frequently

- Importance of gesture to help link representations


The Role of Language

- Metaphors are found in everyday life, in perception and in action

- Our "conceptual system" is metaphorical in nature

- Language is evidence of our conceptual system

- Happy is up/Sad is down (I'm feeling up. That boosted my spirits. VS I'm feeling down. I feel into depression)
- Conscious is up/Unconscious is down (Get up. Wake up. VS. He fell asleep. He sank into a coma)
- Health and life are up/Sickness and death are down (He's at the peak of his health. He's in top shape. VS. He fell ill. He came down with the flu. He dropped dead.)
- Control and force are up/Being controlled is down (She has control over me. I am on top of the situation. VS. I am under her control. She fell from power. The company is going under)
- More is up/Less is down (My income rose last year. The number of books printed each years keeps going up. VS. Her grades fell last semester. Turn the heat down.


The Role of Language (cont'd)

- Language is metaphorical

- Many metaphors are based on how our bodies are oriented in the world

- Lakoff & Johnson: Language is evidence of the way we think about things


Using the body to learn

- Embodied Cognition research: Does performing certain physical actions help students better understand a mathematical theorem? (Ex. Students were asked to perform particular gestures. Then they were asked: "True of False: For any triangle, the sum of the lengths of any two sides must be greater than the length of the remaining side. Then students were asked to justify their answers)


Summary of Embodied Cognition

- EC is a group of theories and perspectives

- Cognition is linked to our bodies' interaction with the environment

- Evidence supporting embodied cognition from:
- Our bodies
- Gesture
- Language


What is it NOT?

- It's easy to (mistakenly) think of ECog
- Kinesthetic learning style
- Learning through movement
- How it is separate from situated and distributed cognition theories


Situated Cognition

- Learning is: Experienced in authentic activities

- Role of environment: Learning and thinking cannot be separated from it

- Role of other people: Learning from others via communities of practice and cognitive apprenticeships

- Key Theorists: Lave and Wenger


Distributed Cognition

- Learning is: Distributed amongst people, tools (cogntive artifacts), space, and time

- Role of Environment: Involved in all cognition

- Role of other people: One of many distributed entities in our thinking and learning

- Key theorists: Hutchins (Pea; Norman)


Embodied Cognition

- Learning is: Grounded in our experiences with our physical environment

- Role of Environment: Limits and defines how we think and learn

- Role of other people: Less central in EC; interact with our environment

- Key Theorists: Goldin-Meadow (Lakoff & Johnson)