“Physical experiences may enhance learning”

13 May

From a paper just published in Psychological Science:

“Three laboratory experiments involving students’ behavior and brain imaging and one randomized field experiment in a college physics class explored the importance of physical experience in science learning. We reasoned that students’ understanding of science concepts such as torque and angular momentum is aided by activation of sensorimotor brain systems that add kinetic detail and meaning to students’ thinking. We tested whether physical experience with angular momentum increases involvement of sensorimotor brain systems during students’ subsequent reasoning and whether this involvement aids their understanding. The physical experience, a brief exposure to forces associated with angular momentum, significantly improved quiz scores. Moreover, improved performance was explained by activation of sensorimotor brain regions when students later reasoned about angular momentum. This finding specifies a mechanism underlying the value of physical experience in science education and leads the way for classroom practices in which experience with the physical world is an integral part of learning.”

 

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