Educational Robotics to Foster and Assess Social Relations in Students' Groups


Robotics has gained, in recent years, a significant role in educational processes that take place in formal, non-formal, and informal contexts, mainly in the subjects related to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Indeed, educational robotics (ER) can be fruitfully applied also to soft skills, as it allows promoting social links between students, if it is proposed as a group activity. Working in a group to solve a problem or to accomplish a task in the robotics field allows fostering new relations and overcoming the constraints of the established links associated to the school context. Together with this aspect, ER offers an environment where it is possible to assess group dynamics by means of sociometric tools. In this paper, we will describe an example of how ER can be used to foster and assess social relations in students’ group. In particular, we report a study that compares: (1) a laboratory with robots, (2) a laboratory with Scratch for coding, and (3) a control group. This study involved Italian students attending middle school. As the focus of this experiment was to study relations in students’ group, we used the sociometric tools proposed by Moreno. Results show that involving students in a robotics lab can effectively foster relations between students and, jointly with sociometric tools, can be employed to portrait group dynamics in a synthetic and manageable way.

Source: frontier

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