Barbara Tversky
Website

Azadeh Jamalian
Website

Rebecca McGinnis
Website

Understanding through the Body and the World


Principal Investigator

Barbara Tversky
Professor of Psychology and Education
Columbia Teachers College
Emerita at Stanford


Team Members

Azadeh Jamalian
PhD Student in Cognitive Studies
Teachers College, Columbia University

Rebecca McGinnis
Access Coordinator
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

Understanding doesn’t begin or end in the mind. It begins in the world and is expressed in the world. When thought overwhelms the mind, the mind uses the world. Understandings can be expressed in many ways; language is common, but language in vivo is accompanied by actions of the body and arrangements of things. Actions and arrangements are more direct routes to meaning than language, which bears primarily symbolic relations to meaning. The proposed research investigates how people, sighted and blind, create, use, and revise actions and arrangements in space to understand complex material, concrete and abstract. Expressing understanding entails design and abstraction, imbuing actions and arrangements with meaning. Externalizing understandings capitalizes on natural mappings to space and action; externalizing also provides checks for completeness and coherence, and a platform for inference. The research will reveal natural mappings and have direct implications for teaching and learning, both lo-tech and hi-tech