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Research Sandpit

 Embodied Learning:

A call for participation in a cross-disciplinary research sandpit
13th/14th June 2012

The Learning Sciences Research Institute has been successful in being awarded pump-priming funds from the University’s Research and Knowledge Transfer Board in order to stimulate new interdisciplinary research collaborations.  Colleagues from a range of relevant disciplines are invited to participate in a sandpit around the theme of Embodied Learning. 

What is a sandpit? [collapsed title="click to expand/contract"]
A research sandpit, for those who haven’t been to one, is a facilitated workshop where participants (usually from different disciplines), work in small groups to brainstorm and refine ideas for possible joint research projects.  Usually the sandpit involves the opportunity to win some pump-priming funds.  These funds would then be used for whatever preparatory or pilot activity was necessary to the construction of a full bid for external support. The event should be an informal and enjoyable experience but one that has a worthy and productive outcome.

£10K has been allocated to cover the expenses of the event and the subsequent support for development of any successful project(s)

This sandpit is a one-day workshop, starting with lunch on Wednesday 13th June and ending with lunch on 14th June. Dinner will also be provided for those who wish to continue planning conversations. Research sandpits traditionally are organised around a single theme.  Our discussion have suggested the interdisciplinary theme of ‘embodied learning’

What is Embodied Learning? [collapsed title="click to expand/contract"]

This is an orientation to learning that has gained considerable attention recently.  It concerns the manner in which the body – its particular patterns of movement, position, gesture etc. – influence contextual, neural or mental events relating to cognition and learning.

For example:

  • Does producing and viewing gestures help people learn?    
  • Can physical activity improve executive function?·        
  • Does providing haptic feedback improve understanding of forces?·        
  • How are judgments about time and distance affected by whether you are moving or not?·        
  • Can body illusions help you learn to cope with pain?·       
  • How different is it to type or handwrite your essay?·        
  • How should technologies be designed to support embodied learning?

These are mere illustrations of questions that might be asked. Evidently, colleagues will think of many others. However, they indicate how the embodied nature of human action deserves close attention for the development of theory and practice around the topic of learning. [/collapse]

Purpose and format of the sandpit
[collapsed title="click to expand/contract"]

The sandpit event will present this topic more fully to colleagues from a wide range of disciplines (along with a brief review of the variety of projects that it might reasonably encompass). We believe that the topic provides deep theoretical interest but also is a vehicle for a wide range of projects with considerable practical potential – e.g., in designing new forms of instruction, curriculum or learning technologies.

Participants in the sandpit will have the opportunity to win funds to support a pilot project which could support the development of a grant proposal.

The sandpit will be held in the LSRI labs, which are well equipped with useful technologies for coordinating such meetings, including involving participants not present on site. The day will involve a variety of facilitated activities leading to the development of group project proposals. Towards the end of the sandpit period, projects would be formally pitched through presentations. A group of independent judges will select the winner(s). [/collapse]

Who should be interested? [collapsed title="click to expand/contract"]

We expect that this theme will attract interest from colleagues in Psychology (particularly within areas of neuroscience and cognition), Education (spatial navigation, gesture and movement within teaching, physical activity and learning), Computer Science and Human Factors, Linguistics, Philosophy, Geography (e.g., location and sensor based technologies), and beyond…  [/collapse]

Application procedure & deadline

Expressions of interest in participation should be sent to  before Friday June 1st.
[It would be helpful if you included a sentence (or some keywords) that summarised your interests around this theme]


Location:             LSRI suite (Left hand corridor, First floor Exchange Building, Jubilee campus)


Times:                                  June 13th PM: 13:00 – 17:00


                                June 13th Eve: Dinner
                                June 14th: AM: 09:30 – 13:00

 Notes on funding possibilities