Thursday, January 29, 2015

A new angle on (kinaesthetic geometry or haptic pronunciation) teaching

"Embodied cognition" is, or should be, the point of departure for pronunciation teaching--and for elementary math-geometry, according to a "moving" study by Smith, King, and Hoyte, University of Vermont (Summarized by Science Daily). "Learning angles through movement: Critical actions for developing understanding in an embodied activity." (Full citation below.)

Here is one researcher's take on embodied cognition: ". . . the brain alone does not generate behavior, but that it actually works in concert with physical movements and other environmental and neural processes such as perception, action and emotion."

In the study, elementary school-age subjects who formed geometric shapes or angles with their bodies " . . . made significant gains in the understanding of angles and angle measurements . . . while interacting with a Kinect for Windows mathematics program." 

The function of body movement (and gesture) in learning has been established and understood in many disciplines or fields of research. This study adds a more direct connection to abstract concepts, not just communicative intentions or emotions. In pronunciation teaching there are several dozen "concepts" that can be used pedagogically (such as symbols for vowels), all of them, or at least most of them can be represented in visual schema, or (in haptic work) in pedagogical movement patterns (gesture plus touch on a focal element in the word or phrase). 

What is also nice about this study is that to create those angles with the body requires a requisite degree of accuracy and dimensionality--kinaesthetically for the learner and visually (for feedback) for the instructor. That is also the key to haptic pronunciation work--and what makes it particularly effective; precision of body position and gesture in the visual field. ( One of the chief criticisms of gestural work, in general, is the inconsistent presentation of patterns in the visual field and variability of emotional expressiveness.)

The future of pronunciation teaching lies in such embodied technology.  May be time to connect with Kinect . . . 

University of Vermont. (2015, January 26). Students master math through movement using Kinect for Windows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 28, 2015 from

No comments:

Post a Comment