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Building Trust in Robots in Robotics-Focused STEM Education under TPACK Framework in Middle Schools

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Pre-College: Robotics

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

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Paper Authors


S. M. Mizanoor Rahman New York University

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Mizanoor Rahman received Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Mie University at Tsu, Japan in 2011. He then worked as a research fellow at the National University of Singapore (NUS), a researcher at Vrije University of Brussels (Belgium) and a postdoctoral associate at Clemson University, USA. He is currently working as a postdoctoral associate at the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, NYU Tandon School of Engineering, NY, USA. His research and teaching interests include robotics, mechatronics, control systems, electro-mechanical design, human factors/ergonomics, engineering psychology, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, computer vision, biomimetics and biomechanics with applications to industrial manipulation and manufacturing, healthcare and rehabilitation, social services, autonomous unmanned services and STEM education.

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Sonia Mary Chacko New York University, Tandon School of Engineering

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Sonia Mary Chacko received her B.Tech. degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, India, and M.Tech degree in Mechatronics Engineering from NITK, Surathkal, India. She is currently a Ph.D. student in Mechanical Engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Brooklyn, NY. She is serving as a research assistant under an NSF-funded DR K-12 project.

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Vikram Kapila New York University, Tandon School of Engineering Orcid 16x16

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Vikram Kapila is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering (NYU Tandon), where he directs a Mechatronics, Controls, and Robotics Laboratory, a Research Experience for Teachers Site in Mechatronics and Entrepreneurship, a DR K-12 research project, and an ITEST research project, all funded by NSF. He has held visiting positions with the Air Force Research Laboratories in Dayton, OH. His research interests include K-12 STEM education, mechatronics, robotics, and control system technology. Under a Research Experience for Teachers Site, a DR K-12 project, and GK-12 Fellows programs, funded by NSF, and the Central Brooklyn STEM Initiative (CBSI), funded by six philanthropic foundations, he has conducted significant K-12 education, training, mentoring, and outreach activities to integrate engineering concepts in science classrooms and labs of dozens of New York City public schools. He received NYU Tandon’s 2002, 2008, 2011, and 2014 Jacobs Excellence in Education Award, 2002 Jacobs Innovation Grant, 2003 Distinguished Teacher Award, and 2012 Inaugural Distinguished Award for Excellence in the category Inspiration through Leadership. Moreover, he is a recipient of 2014-2015 University Distinguished Teaching Award at NYU. His scholarly activities have included 3 edited books, 8 chapters in edited books, 1 book review, 59 journal articles, and 133 conference papers. He has mentored 1 B.S., 21 M.S., and 4 Ph.D. thesis students; 38 undergraduate research students and 11 undergraduate senior design project teams; over 400 K-12 teachers and 100 high school student researchers; and 18 undergraduate GK-12 Fellows and 59 graduate GK-12 Fellows. Moreover, he directs K-12 education, training, mentoring, and outreach programs that enrich the STEM education of over 1,000 students annually.

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Recent research has examined effective use of robotics as a pedagogical tool in STEM education through the lens of TPACK (technological- pedagogical-content knowledge). Such a framework can help visualize and understand abstract content knowledge in a tangible and concrete manner, enrich kinesthetic learning, improve excitement and engagement of students, promote active learning, intrinsically and extrinsically motivate teachers and students, and thus enhance overall learning environment and outcomes. Not surprisingly, in recent years, application of robotics in STEM education has witnessed increased interest, become an area of active research, and attracted significant efforts for incorporating robotics into STEM curricula. Application of robotics in middle school STEM education is appropriate since the age and maturity level of students demand a greater emphasis on consideration of situated cognition, cognitive apprenticeship, collaborative learning, and inquiry-based learning frameworks, all of which can be addressed through the robotics.

Nonetheless, based on our experience, we believe that despite its tremendous potential robotics cannot be widely incorporated into STEM education curricula until teachers and students develop trust in the robotics. Here, trust of teachers and students in robotics indicates their willingness to believe in the solutions provided by robots and to rely on the contributions of robots in STEM teaching and learning. Human trust in robots is extensively explored in fields such as service, manufacturing, etc. However, trust of teachers and students in robots in robotics-focused STEM education has not been studied yet.

This paper is based on our collaboration with 20 teachers of 8 urban, inner-city schools and observations of over 200 students in their robotics-focused STEM lessons under TPACK framework. Using appropriate questionnaire techniques, we develop a 'trust vocabulary' that contains what the teachers and the students mean by trust in the robots for their lessons, and what factors and features of the robotics may affect their trust. Next, we develop a qualitative trust assessment method using a Likert scale and derive a quantitative trust computational model. We compare the qualitative and quantitative trust measurements and validate the quantitative trust model. We propose several hypotheses and investigate whether there are statistically significant differences in trust in robots between teachers and students, teaching subjects such as science and math, and participants' genders. We analyze whether the level of trust of the teachers in robotics effects their pedagogy and the level of trust of the students effects their learning methods. Based on the trust assessment results, we conduct a survey with the teachers and students and offer recommendations that may help enhance the trust levels of the teachers and students in the robotics for STEM education.

The results are novel that may advocate using robotics as a trust-worthy pedagogical tool under the TPACK framework, argue incorporating robotics into STEM education curricula in middle schools, and help maintain appropriate levels of trust of teachers and students in robots, which may increase the overall learning outcomes.

Rahman, S. M. M., & Chacko, S. M., & Kapila, V. (2017, June), Building Trust in Robots in Robotics-Focused STEM Education under TPACK Framework in Middle Schools Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27990

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