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Building Intelligent Robots In A Cooperative Learning Environment

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.113.1 - 4.113.7

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Paper Authors

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Marjorie Skubic

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2520

Building Intelligent Robots in a Cooperative Learning Environment

Marjorie Skubic

Department of Computer Engineering and Computer Science University of Missouri-Columbia


The mobile robotics course introduced at the University of Missouri-Columbia is similar to other robot-building courses, with one important distinction-- instead of competition among student teams, cooperation and information sharing are encouraged across all students in the class. The course covers the design and development of intelligent machines, particularly emphasizing topics related to sensor-based control of mobile robots. Students are grouped into teams of 2-3 people, representing multiple disciplines. Each team is assigned a robot kit, which includes a small micro-controller board, motors, sensors, and technic lego parts. Programming projects using the kits are designed to stimulate creativity and exploration. The first three projects are structured to promote incremental progress, culminating in the completion of a small, autonomous mobile robot. At the completion of each project, each group gives an oral presentation and demonstration and also submits a written report that becomes part of the lab manual. For the final project, the class collectively designs an experiment on cooperative robots, redesigns the team robots as necessary, and conducts the experiment. Throughout the course, the class operates in a cooperative spirit. Students are encouraged to discuss ideas and problems with each other, even members outside of their group. Using a technique developed by another student or group is also acceptable as along as the developer is credited in reports and discussions. The cooperative class spirit has proven to be a good environment for individual learning and at the same time promotes teamwork. Student productivity, as well as student satisfaction, has been high.


Cooperative learning has been defined as "instruction that involves students working in teams to accomplish a common goal, under conditions that involve both positive interdependence (all members must cooperate to complete the task) and individual and group accountability (each member is accountable for the complete final outcome)" (Karl Smith, University of Minnesota1).

Robot-building courses have become popular for incorporating cooperative learning by grouping students into teams. Typically, the teams compete against each other, to see which group has developed the best robot. In this paper, we describe a course in which students also build mobile

Skubic, M. (1999, June), Building Intelligent Robots In A Cooperative Learning Environment Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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