Embodied Learning: Introducing a Taxonomy Based on Bodily Engagement and Task Integration

Cogn Res Princ Implic. 2018;3(1):6. doi: 10.1186/s41235-018-0092-9. Epub 2018 Mar 7.


Research on learning and education is increasingly influenced by theories of embodied cognition. Several embodiment-based interventions have been empirically investigated, including gesturing, interactive digital media, and bodily activity in general. This review aims to present the most important theoretical foundations of embodied cognition and their application to educational research. Furthermore, we critically review recent research concerning the effectiveness of embodiment interventions and develop a taxonomy to more properly characterize research on embodied cognition. The main dimensions of this taxonomy are bodily engagement (i.e. how much bodily activity is involved) and task integration (i.e. whether bodily activities are related to a learning task in a meaningful way or not). By locating studies on the 2 × 2 grid resulting from this taxonomy and assessing the corresponding learning outcomes, we identify opportunities, problems, and challenges of research on embodied learning.

Keywords: Bodily activity; Cognitive load; Embodied cognition; Learning; Task integration.