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Utah's Foremost Platform for Undergraduate Research Presentation
2021 Abstracts

"Botley, you have to listen!"- Exploring young children's interactions with robots while learning to code

Presenters: Selendra Lewis, College of Science, Biology
Authors: Selendra Lewis, Rebecca Peterson, Kathleen Bullock
Faculty Advisors: Jody Clarke-Midura, College of Education and Human Services, Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences
Institution: Utah State University

Recently, there’s been a surge of research about child-robot interactions as robots are being used in classrooms and homes in increasing numbers. Many of these studies are conducted in a laboratory-like setting followed by a survey. This project is unique in that we primarily rely on observational data in classrooms where students are using robots to learn math and Computational Thinking skills including Spatial Reasoning, Algorithmic Thinking, Debugging, and Decomposition. While the main purpose of the larger project is to develop curriculum and assessments for these skills, the structure of the FSRS project proposal allows us to also analyze these data for child-robot interactions. In this presentation, we will discuss the kindergarteners’ interactions with robot coding toys during six lessons. Our research question guiding this analysis is: In what ways do students interact with and respond to the robots? Our sample consists of 32 students from two public elementary schools. Students worked in small groups with a teacher guiding them through various activities that require students to program the robots to reach certain locations on a grid or mat. We videorecorded 6 sessions per group (1,440 minutes total). We created content logs of the video data and then coded these them for instances where students talked to or about the robots, including their observations and questions. Two students that had particularly unique interactions, in both the amount of robot interactions and quality of the relationships they were developing with the robots, were selected as case studies. We will present these data and discuss how these results contribute to the current understanding of child-robot relationships. This research is part of a larger research project, Coding in Kindergarten (CiK) that was funded by the National Science Foundation and awarded to the mentors: Drs. Jessica Shumway, Jody Clarke-Midura, and Victor Lee.