טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
Ph.D Thesis
Ph.D StudentPolishuk Alex
SubjectDevelopment and Investigation of Student-Robot Interactions
as Learning Activities in the Museum of Science
and Technology
DepartmentDepartment of Education in Science and Technology
Supervisor Professor Igor Verner
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

Primary schools are being faced with the challenge of teaching such complex concepts such as system, process, structure and behavior. Studies in educational robotics show that learning through building robots is not attractive for all and therefore, alternative approaches are needed. Our study proposes an approach based on learning through interaction with robots, as such approach matches learning from interactive exhibits in science museums. The study was conducted at the Israel National Museum of Science, Technology and Space (MadaTech). The goal of this study is to develop and investigate an approach to learning through interaction with animated robots in a science museum environment.

The research questions:

1. Are there indications of development of systems thinking skills in students who learn through interaction with robots? If so, what is the nature of this development?

2. What perceptions of a robot are developed in students participating in robot theatre performances?

3. Can a lesson be delivered to a science class through interaction with a remotely controlled humanoid robot? If so, what are students' perceptions of the learning interaction?

To answer the questions, we conducted three case studies, following up the implementation of the proposed approach in three types of learning activities: robotics workshops, theatre performances with advanced robots, and science classes delivered by a humanoid robot.   

346 students of 2nd to 4th grades participated in the 20-hour robotics workshop and learned with animal-like robots constructed using the LEGO WeDo kit. The students inquired and created robot behaviors. They performed systems related tasks: identifying robot components and connections, exploration of mechanisms, design and analysis of robot behaviors, measuring physical parameters by sensors.

The students' outcomes in system thinking skills were evaluated through the analysis of worksheets, observations, video recording and interviews. Inductive analysis of the data indicated that the students developed skills related to the seven categories of systems thinking, defined by Richmond.

 To answer the second question, we analyzed students' perceptions (N=720) of the robot theatre performances, using questionnaires, observations and video recording. The most frequently were kinematic characteristics of the robots, while the features of artificial intelligence were less noted.

To answer the third question, we developed and evaluated a 1-hour science lesson assisted by a humanoid RoboThespian. The lesson “Levers”, given for groups of 5th to 7th graders (N = 212), included explanation, in-group experiments with lever balances, and assessment activities. We used a quiz to evaluate the lesson outcomes, and video recording and a questionnaire to gather data regarding students' perceptions of the learning interaction. We found that the lesson successfully achieved its educational objectives. The absolute majority of the students actively participated in learning activities throughout the lesson and interacted with RoboThespian with great interest. Students’ answers about their perceptions of the robot indicate that some of them tend to characterize the "robot-teacher" behavior as being consistent with that of a real teacher. Results of our study indicate that the proposed approach of learning through interaction with robots can be effectively applied in science museum educational frameworks.