Abrahamson, D., Sánchez-García, R., & Smyth, C. (2016). Metaphors are projected constraints on action: An ecological dynamics view on learning across the disciplines. 

In C.-K. Looi, J. L. Polman, U. Cress, & P. Reimann (Eds.), “Transforming learning, empowering learners,” Proceedings of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2016) (Vol. 1, “Full Papers”, pp. 314-321). Singapore: International Society of the Learning Sciences. [Selected as Best Paper of ICLS 2016]

Learning scientists have been considering the validity and relevance of arguments coming from philosophy and cognitive science for the embodied, enactive, embedded, and extended nature of individual learning, reasoning, and practice in sociocultural ecologies. Specifically, some design-based researchers of STEM cognition and instruction have been evaluating activities for grounding subject content knowledge in interactive sensorimotor problem solving. In so doing, we submit, the field stands greatly to avail of theoretical models and pedagogical methodologies from disciplines oriented explicitly on understanding, fostering, and remediating motor action. This conceptual paper considers potential values of ecological dynamics, a perspective originating in kinesiology, as an explanatory resource for tackling enduring Learning Sciences research problems. We support our position via an ecological-dynamics reexamination of the function of metaphor in the instruction of sports skills, somatic awareness, and mathematics. We propose a view of metaphors as productive constraints reconfiguring the dynamic system of learner, teacher, and environment.