Method adaptability

Within the education framework, it is necessary to adapt the methodologies used to the population that we are working with. Teachers, students or administrative staff have different needs, problems and challenges. Teachers can be overloaded with not only lessons but management tasks, and continuous evaluations of their performance at scientific and teaching levels. Students also must endure a certain level of uncertainty about their professional and personal future in a competitive, exigent and changeable world. Administrative staff have also an excess of tasks and not enough recognition. Tools selected should be adapted to: 1) the capacity of the research team, 2) the available resources, and 3) the calendar since workload peaks and exam periods can reduce the level of compromise and engagement.


In the next section three scenarios of increasing complexity are shown with examples that can be presented to a researcher who wants to try embodied approaches in higher education. The main requirements for each of them are summarized in table form. Detailed information of tools, methods and requirements listed in the three scenario tables are summarized in the following section: methodology. The aim of constructing the chapter in this way is that each reader can create their own design depending on specific needs, and then access only the tools they are interested in the methodology section. In the discussion section, we show our own experience using the three scenarios and using the different tools. Finally, in the conclusions section, an integrative summary of the three approaches is presented.


The implementations of embodied research in higher education can be so subtle that it simply seeks to improve the classroom environment (Scenario 1), more complex when it constitutes a student’s end-of-degree work (Scenario 2), or suppose in itself a research project with the development of a doctoral thesis (Scenario 3). Tables 19.1— 19.3 present these three types of scenarios from lower to higher complexity. In each of them there are examples of potential objectives that can be covered, and the most reasonable strategies and tools that can be used. The details of all of them are included in the section that follows.


Methodology must always adapt to the research questions and objectives. Because there are three different scenarios for research here, we organized it into three sections: 1) Major issues, 2) Quantitative tools, 3) Qualitative tools.

Regarding the methodology to be used and the progressive complexity of the three proposed scenarios, it is considered necessary to provide some initial considerations on the recruitment of participants, legal and ethical aspects, embodiment and environment.

232 Rosa-Maria Rodriguez-Jiménez & Manuel Carmona

TABLE 19.1 Innovation in education project

Level 1. Innovation in education project

Potential objectives covered by this approach:

  • To improve the classroom environment
  • To train student in physical or technical issues using a different approach
  • To generate simple evidences about impact of embodied work on higher education
  • To provide demonstrations to other colleagues about the suitability of introducing the embodiment in classroom
  • To offer students the opportunity to find their own body in a context where the cognitive learning approach prevails
  • To test tools in an easy way for later implementation on more complex scenarios

E. tools

Environment and materials




Bodyawareness dynamics (5-10 minutes)

In classroom, without changing location or class structure. With or without music support. Secure environment must be created

All students in agreement enrolled in a subject

Likert questionnaire at the end of the trimester

Reflexive diary in the middle and at the end of the trimester

Other requirements: The teacher must receive specific training about the embodied tools.

TABLE 19.2 Short-term research project

Level 2. Short-term research project

Potential objectives covered by this approach:

  • To produce a lasting impact on the participants on the possibilities opened to them by reconciling with their bodies
  • To train young researchers on embodiment tools and research issues
  • To validate physiological tools
  • To contribute to existing knowledge within the field of mind-body publications

E. tools

Environment and materials




10-12 movement sessions (90 minutes each)

Adequate space for movement. Materials for creative movement and music

15—20 participants per group (control and experimental)

3 psychological test and cortisol physiological measurement

Reflexive diaries collected during all the sessions

Other requirements: Person in charge must have experience in both embodiment and psychological tools for containing and supporting the group. Ethical Committee Approval and Informed Consent Form (ICF) mandatory.

Participants and recruitment

Depending on the project, participants are: teachers, degree or masters students, or administrative staff. The embodied work implies a limited number of participants so the group sessions could generate significant learning for everyone. The tables above indicate the appropriate number of participants for each approach. We never

TABLE 19.3 Full research project

Level 3. Full research project

Potential objectives covered by this approach:

  • To provide the participants with a first level of deep knowledge, which awakens in them the need to continue researching for themselves outside of the project
  • To generate irrefutable knowledge and share it with other professionals, publishing outside the body-mind environment
  • To establish a new research line, a team work or reinforce either of the two, seeking to acquire a solid reputation within the field

E. tools

Environment and materials




A minimum of 16 sessions (90 minutes each) of embodied work

Adequate space for movement.

Materials for creative movement and music

15-20 participants per group (two control groups / one experimental group)

5 psychological and 3 physiological measures

Reflexive diary & Focus group (at the middle and at the end of the training programme)

Other requirements: A more experienced and interdisciplinary research team is required. Ethical Committee Approval and ICF mandatory.

mix participants from these three categories. In the case of projects following scenario 1, all the participants belong to the same subject, course and degree, but when we talk about scenario 2 and 3 they can be mixed. Normally, participants have no previous training in non-verbal aspects. There is no economical reimbursement for participants in any of our projects, although depending on the extension of the commitment, we try to offer them some kind of counterpart. For example, a fixed quantity of credits (ECTS) is offered to those students that complete more than 85% of the attendance to the training programme. Or, in collaboration with the Human Resources department, the hours dedicated to the project are now considered as part of the training hours that teacher needs to fulfill every year.

Recruitment can be made directly by the researcher in the classroom (scenario 1) through verbal or written permission, or through any of the following departments available in educational institutions: the Human Resources Department (HR) or the Department of Prevention and Occupational Health (POH). Scenarios 2 and 3 require consent of the organization for not disturbing the teaching activity and the ethics committee approval. So, the order of recruitment is as follows: 1) permission from the Dean Faculty, 2) approval from HR and POH departments, 3) internal and/or external ethical committee in order to guarantee the observance of legal requirements, 4) recruitment itself either through face-to-face presentation or via email.

A specialist in movement and embodiment (in our experience the specialists were dance movement therapists) conducted the groups in scenarios 2 and 3. An expert is one who is able to support the group and contain any emotional conflict or trauma that may arise.

Legal and ethical considerations

Among many other things, it is common for the ethical committee to review and request improvements in inclusion and exclusion criteria for the participants (according to the hypothesis and objectives of the study), or the information provided to the participants within the Informed Consent Form (ICF). This document, signed by the participant, must contain all detailed information about every issue of the study, guaranteeing that each participant can abandon the programme at any time without providing any justification. When requested by HR or a POH department, additional insurance is contracted for participants prior to the programme implementation.

Data collected must be kept encrypted in a protected place. A code should be assigned for each participant, and the project leader (or the person who has been agreed and named in the ICF) guards the file with names and codes. The rest of the research team will access the data but will not be able to relate the data to the individual who has provided them.

Suggestions for embodiment work

When readers are experts in embodiment, they will know how and when use the different tools for working the objectives, and also the level of depth. The following list contains some of the sources from which we selected some of the tools to encourage participants to move, explore and know their own bodies in a holistic way. Note that a well-trained specialist will use the list as suggestions but is also free to use interventions (on or off the list) as they deem fit.

  • • Body-scan; breathing exercises; mobilization of joints; stretching muscles; centre of gravity and different axes
  • • Guided visualization
  • • Creative movement and dance
  • • Play and metaphor dynamics
  • • Laban Movement Analysis
  • • Bartenieff fundamentals
  • • Physical contact
  • • Basic anatomical and neurological principles of Body-Mind Centering.

Environment and materials

A spacious and quiet room with natural light is necessary. It is important that the room guarantees confidentiality, that is, that the room is not open to another space or contains materials that can be needed by other people. Interruptions during the embodied process are really negative and undesirable. If students have no previous experience in non-verbal experiences (which in general is the common situation with the exception of dance or sports students), the introduction of these proposals must be done with attention to the receptivity of the students (body memory is always there, and we must be aware that everyone feels comfortable). Furthermore, assuring confidentiality and an intimate atmosphere is key.

Intervention schedule is also important. In our experience, teachers and staff appreciate a time for body-work in the middle of the day. Transitions to the movement space are important, leaving some minutes to allow people to arrive and put in an attitude of work and assuring that at the end teachers do not need to leave abruptly to meetings or lessons. It is worthwhile in our opinion to finish the activity some minutes before the time assigned to allow participants a quiet and calm transition to the next activity. Working with students, needs can also be very different: at the beginning of the day some activation and energizing proposal is appropriate, while breathing or stretching exercises at the end of the day reduce tension and relax the atmosphere between lessons.

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