Choreographic Ways of Knowing as Generative Site for STEM Learning, Design, & Analysis
Across three studies and empirical papers, this dissertation focuses on the ways embodied, choreographic sensemaking practices can expand the means and ends of STEM learning with respect to mathematics and computation. Specifically, this work demonstrates how practices for developing rule-based improvisational choreography map generatively onto mathematical and computational concepts. The first empirical paper traces different approaches by young students and STEM educators to reenact ensemble choreography and illuminates how reenacting choreography can function as a design method, mathematical activity structure, and method of Interaction Analysis. This analysis demonstrates the mathematical and computational potential of choreographic reenactment and development by showing how ensemble learning can hybridize practices from dance and mathematics. The second empirical paper highlights the generative ways a quartet of professional dancers engaged in the same mathematical reenactment activity as described in the first empirical paper by drawing on an ethnographic study of these dancers’ professional practices. The primary discovery of this work was a practice the dancers referred to as “physical research,” which demonstrates how bodies moving in response to each other can support agentic forms of learning that foreground interpersonal relations. Analyzing the use of physical research during the reenactment activity demonstrates the expansiveness of choreographic practices for supporting ensemble discoveries in hybrid disciplinary activities. The third empirical paper describes new methods for engaging in design research by using a design collaboration with dancers from the second empirical paper as a case study to demonstrate the necessary link between changes in design practices and changes in analytic practices. Our analytic collaboration made visible how engaging in physical research helped learners see each other’s movements as contributions to respond to physically, grounding their contributions in an ethos of care and collectivity embedded within the computational structures students physically generated together. These three empirical papers explore how embodied theories of learning, informed by the expressive and artistic practices of dancers and choreographers, can reframe what is learned in STEM learning environments, how it can be learned collectively, and who is involved in expanding the pedagogical and design implications of this work.