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Investigating Classroom-related Factors that Influence Student Perceptions of LEGO Robots as Educational Tools in Middle Schools (Fundamental)

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Pre-College Engineering Education in the Formal Classroom

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Shramana Ghosh NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering

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Shramana Ghosh received her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from University of California, Irvine in 2017, her Masters in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University in 2013, and her Bachelors in Manufacturing Processes and Automation Engineering from University of Delhi in 2011.
She is currently working as a postdoctoral associate at the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, NYU Tandon School of Engineering, NY, USA. In this role she supports and studies use of robotics in K-12 STEM education. Her other research interests include robotics, mechanical design, and biomechanics.

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Sheila Borges Rajguru NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Sheila Borges Rajguru is the Assistant Director of the Center for K-12 STEM Education, NYU Tandon School of Engineering. As the Center's STEAM educator and researcher she works with engineers and faculty to provide professional development to K-12 STEM teachers with a focus on social justice. She is currently Co-Principal Investigator on two NSF-grants that provide robotics/mechatronics PD to science, math, and technology teachers. In addition, she is the projects director of the ARISE program. This full-time, seven-week program includes: college level workshops and seminars, and a high level research experience in NYU faculty labs. Her commitment to diversity and equity is paramount to her work in STEAM and activism. As a former Adjunct Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University and biomedical scientist in immunology Dr. Borges balances the world of what scientists do and brings that to STEAM education in order to provide culturally relevant professional development and curricula that aligns to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Her free time is spent hiking, growing spiritually, and enjoying her family and friends. Moreover, Dr. Borges is treasurer and co-chair of the Northeastern Association for Science Teacher Education (NE-ASTE) where faculty, researchers, and educators inform STEM teaching and learning and inform policy.

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Vikram Kapila NYU 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, 9 chapters in edited books, 1 book review, 62 journal articles, and 154 conference papers. He has mentored 1 B.S., 35 M.S., and 5 Ph.D. thesis students; 58 undergraduate research students and 11 undergraduate senior design project teams; over 500 K-12 teachers and 118 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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This paper investigates classroom-related factors such as pedagogical strategies and management of robotics-based educational content that contribute to the formation of student perceptions in robotics-enhanced classes. Robots are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in K-12 classroom in the United States and are used to improve student engagement, interactive learning, innovative thinking, collaboration, problem-solving skills, language learning, and achievement scores. Most studies reporting on the use of robots in education focus their attention only on the effects of robots on students’ cognitive, conceptual, language, and social skills. Much less studied, yet of critical importance in the assessment of effectiveness of robot usage, is the perception of students regarding the robot’s presence and utility in their classrooms, and what factors contribute to the formation of these perceptions. This is crucial as robots are increasingly introduced in K-12 classrooms as novel, tangible artifacts that are considered to promote engagement and creation of an environment conducive for student learning.

Prior work in this domain has focused on assessing students’ perceptions of robots via questionnaires, observations, and interviews, and has reported that, in general, students have a positive attitude towards robotics-enhanced lessons. In this paper, we aim to develop a more nuanced understanding of student attitudes towards robotics-based lessons, and to study how the pedagogical methodologies used by teachers in a class influence the formation of such attitudes. To this end, we observe the implementation of robotics-enhanced lesson plans in four middle school classrooms by teachers who participated in a summer professional development program to gain familiarity with using a robotics kit and have experience with developing robotics-enhanced science and math lesson plans. We utilize an open-ended survey question to probe students across different classrooms regarding their opinions on the utility of robots in their education. We supplement this data by measuring the students’ emotions and stated enjoyment of robotics. We also collect extensive notes regarding the classroom activities and student behavior during the lesson implementation.

A majority of the students surveyed were found to have positive attitudes towards the use of robots in their classes. However, comparing and contrasting the lessons, conducted in four different science and math classrooms, reveals that student reactions to robotic activities designed to encourage active learning and knowledge construction through an experimental platform vary across classrooms. We were able to nominally map the differences in both positive and negative student responses as well as in the changes of student emotions to the various educational methodologies used in each classroom. Our findings highlight the need for a greater focus on examining the effect of educational methodologies used to inform the creation and dissemination of robotics-enhanced content that positively influences students’ perceptions of robots. Such work is of critical importance to effectively improve scientific literacy and attitudes towards science and technology in the country and to help motivate and prepare students for careers in STEM fields in the future.

Ghosh, S., & Borges Rajguru, S., & Kapila, V. (2019, June), Investigating Classroom-related Factors that Influence Student Perceptions of LEGO Robots as Educational Tools in Middle Schools (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33023

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