Embodied Learning Across the Life Span


should be sent to Sian Beilock, Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, 5848 South University Ave., Chicago, IL 60637. E-mail: beilock@uchicago.edu


Developmental psychologists have long recognized the extraordinary influence of action on learning (Held & Hein, 1963; Piaget, 1952). Action experiences begin to shape our perception of the world during infancy (e.g., as infants gain an understanding of others’ goal-directed actions; Woodward, 2009) and these effects persist into adulthood (e.g., as adults learn about complex concepts in the physical sciences; Kontra, Lyons, Fischer, & Beilock, 2012). Theories of embodied cognition provide a structure within which we can investigate the mechanisms underlying action’s impact on thinking and reasoning. We argue that theories of embodiment can shed light on the role of action experience in early learning contexts, and further that these theories hold promise for using action to scaffold learning in more formal educational settings later in development.