BRIDGING TRADITIONAL BOUNDARIES OF KNOWING: REVALUING MIND/BODY CONNECTIONS THROUGH EXPERIENCES OF EMBODIMENT

Open Access
Author:
Freiler, Tammy Jo
Graduate Program:
Adult Education
Degree:
Doctor of Education
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
February 26, 2007
Committee Members:
  • Elizabeth Jean Tisdell, Committee Chair
  • Daniele D Flannery, Committee Member
  • Holly L Angelique, Committee Member
  • Helen Margaret Hendy, Committee Member
  • Ian E Baptiste, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • EXPERIENCES OF EMBODIMENT
Abstract:
Western thought is embedded in a traditional mind/body dichotomy that has privileged the mind in constructing knowledge and obscured the body. However, within emerging scholarly discourses situated in holistic learning practices, there is movement toward integrating multiple ways of knowing guiding best practice and informing learning processes in adult and higher education. With embodiment emerging as an interest area within these discourses, the primary purpose of this study was to explore revaluing embodiment as a way of knowing by examining how it was conceived of,experienced, and applied as new knowledge in a higher education classroom. It addressed a need to bridge the gap between the traditional rational paradigm of teaching and learning and integrated pedagogies that reconnect the whole person. This study was a qualitative investigation of embodiment through a case study action research project in a higher education B.S.N. class of practicing registered nurses where a direct attempt was made to incorporate attention to the body in learning through five experiential sessions drawn from various conceptualizations of embodiment. Experiences of embodiment were examined among 13 participants with data collected through interviews, observation, and documents. Theoretical framing was established from cognitive science, situated cognition and social theory. Several process findings were revealed as part of the action research process from participation in activities of embodied awareness. First, participants developed a deeper understanding of embodied awareness from initial physiological and emotive responses through the body by clarifying ineffable aspects of embodiment through experiential engagement and by relating conceptualizations of embodiment to prior experiences. Second, participants made significant discoveries as new learning about embodiment that they were able to apply as greater self awareness through individual and relational integration in their personal and professional lives with realizations of self nurturance as highly significant for improving quality of life. Third, participants recognized value in experiences of embodiment for learning in adult and higher education related to enhancing course content and greater understanding of cultural relevance and generalized learning processes in new ways. Overall, this study informed a deeper understanding of embodied experiences and their impact and usefulness in facilitating new learning.