Improvise: Embodied learning and process drama in the English literature writing classroom
Spitale, Paul R., II
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Conventional wisdom states that the brain is the center of intelligence; that it commands the body. It is true that the brain has been given more and more control as people retreat to keyboards, screens, and texting. However, the intelligence of the entire body is fundamental in learning. Experiencing texts in the English Language Arts classroom using embodied techniques is an important mode for interpretation. Most of the current research on process drama has moved from contextual, inquiry- or problem-based theories to a far more integrated notion of whole body engagement (embodied learning) in the world (Williams et. al, 2012). This case study investigates how college students experience process drama in introductory-level writing courses to interpret texts. The study took place at a college in the north eastern United States. Through in-depth dynamic assessment, the data interpreted in the findings can be linked to the larger body of knowledge in the field, questioning how knowledge is incorporated into students’ existing conceptual frames in a process of complex cognition (Johnson, 2007). Grounded in theories of cognitive science and embodied cognition, the findings of the study provide evidence that ultimately, the use of improvisation and other embodied techniques in the classroom seemed to support literacy in ways that helped students make new connections, demand new textural perspectives, inform their writing, change their interpretations, form and become an active part in affinity groups, and pursue an active participation in literacy.