How might experiential learning animate ways to teach social cognition?

With a focus on experiential learning this project explores active, performative tactics for teaching social intelligence, empathy and other character strengths within the academic curriculum. We are playing with a range of contexts from dual-purpose courses that explicitly teach social cognition within the academic curriculum, as well as stand alone orientation intensives focused on these skills for college readiness, to integrating experiential exercises within a lesson. The pedagogical tactics range from using games, improv, role play, debates and making to tease out a full spectrum of emotional, physical and cognitive responses to the learning experiences.  


Description This expeditionary research focuses on collaboration as a core skill in the 21st century workplace. Identifying the primary skills we might align with a strong collaborator our focus has been on social intelligence, empathy, communication and explicitly how to provide constructive feedback. The initial hunch interpreted ‘experiential’ through the bias of design and focused on the project-based orientation of making and story-telling. However, the interventions soon extended to  performative experiences that highlighted the multi-sensorial engagement that comes from physical play and games. This year our focus is on (re)designing interventions that interlace tactics from across different disciplines. Our goal to offer novel playful disruptions that call out specific social cognitive skills for quick class exercises.   

Status This is an emergent project for the lab, yet central to how we are coming to understand our mission. Early failures have helped us to improve our capacity to craft learning experiences that more than just entertain the students but lead to ongoing recognition of the skills at play. Co-designing interventions with subject matter experts in the learning sciences, educators and students continues to inform our understanding of the theoretical, scientific and practical merits of various tactics. 

Co-principal Investigators Lisa Grocott and Mai Kobori
Research Associate Roger Manix
Co-design Partners Child Mind Institute, Riverdale Country School and The Character Lab (psychologists, neuroscientists, actors, managers, students, teachers and administration)

Background Image: Talent expertise and deficit instructions from game focused on communication within a collaborative team.