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Perceptual-Motor Grounding

Whenever a concept is first introduced, it is important to ground it in a concrete perceptual-motor experience.  The learner will ideally visualize a picture of the concept, will be able to manipulate its parts and aspects, and will observe how it functions over time.  The teacher and learner will also gain a common ground (shared knowledge) of the learning material.  Perceptual-motor experience is particularly important when there is a need for precision, such as getting directions to find a spatial location.  For example, a course in statistics is not grounded in perceptual-motor experience when the teacher presents symbols and formulae that have no meaning to the student and cannot be visualized.    
  • Implications
    • Teachers should ground new concepts in perceptual-motor experiences when concepts are first introduced and when the content needs to be tracked with a high level of precision. This practice facilitates comprehension, learning, and later use of the information.  
  • References
    • Glenberg, A. M., & Kaschak, M. (2002). Grounding language in action.  Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 9, 558-565.
    • Glenberg, A.M., & Robertson, D.A. (1999).  Indexical understanding of instructions. Discourse Processes, 28, 1-26.