|Ph.D Student||Korchnoy Evgeny|
|Subject||Characteristics of Learning Computer-Controlled Mechanisms|
by Pupils and Students in the Technion Laboratory
|Department||Department of Education in Science and Technology||Supervisor||Professor Igor Verner|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
The goal of this study was to characterize the process of robotic environment design, experiential learning in this environment, and the impact of learning on creative thinking. In the proposed environment pre-service teacher students and school students form a learning community coping with common robotics challenges. We stress on the following questions: (1) What are the characteristics of design of a robotic environment for studying science and technology systems? (2) What are the characteristics of experiential learning in the robotic environment? (3) How does learning in the robotic environment involve pre-service teachers and school students in creative thinking? The environment is implemented in the laboratory of technology at the Department of Education in Technology and Science, Technion. It comprises a collection of robot prototypes and related instructional units developed by pre-service teachers in the framework of the Teaching Methods in Design and Manufacturing course. The pre-service teachers use the robots and units for teaching different science and technology subjects to school students. The robot prototypes were built mainly using the RobixTM construction set. To answer the first research question, we identified and implemented the following robot design stages: defining the project goal and subject; studying the subject and information gathering; developing kinematics schemes, drafts, and performing calculations; creating the first prototype; testing the prototype and experimentation, creating an alternative prototype; and presenting the project. To answer the second research question, by the inductive analysis of observations and reflections we indicated the following main characteristics of learning behaviors in the robotics studies: self-confidence, help, cooperation, interest, seriousness, self-dependence, capacity for work, responsibility, work stress, creativity, power of observation, and perseverance (persistence). We revealed that the characteristics of students' behavior evolved during the robotics studies and implemented literature recommendations to improve the learning process. To answer the third research question, the Figural Torrance Test of Creative Thinking was conducted before and after the middle school robotics course (N=63). In particular, we conducted the Picture Construction Test that examined the learners' originality and elaboration, and the Incomplete Figures Test that concerned fluency, originality, flexibility and elaboration categories (scored separately). The comparison of the school students' performance before and after the course by means of t-test indicated that the learners made significant progress in the ability to develop their own ideas related to the given theme.