Embodied Design


The phrase “embodied design” was first coined by van Rompay and Hekkert (2001), industrial designers who used Lakoff and Johnson’s cognitive semantics theory of conceptual metaphor to predict the emotional affect that humans would attribute to architectural structures, such as bus stops.

There was also a fleeting unarchived use of the phrase by Thecla Schiphorst, circa 2007. Abrahamson recycled the phrase “embodied design” into the learning sciences to describe an approach to the construction of pedagogical materials and activities that enables learners to objectify their tacit knowledge in cultural forms relevant to disciplinary content (Abrahamson, ESM 2009). (An earlier paper appeared in the proceedings of PME-NA 2007.) Later Abrahamson elaborated thus: “Embodied design is a pedagogical framework that seeks to promote grounded learning by creating situations in which students can be guided to negotiate tacit and cultural perspectives on phenomena under inquiry; tacit and cultural ways of perceiving and acting” (IDC 2013IJCCI 2014Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences, 2014).

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