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Robotics in K-12 Formal and Informal Learning Environments: A Review of Literature

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering Division: Robotics in Pre-K-12 Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

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Paper Authors


Nicholas Alexander Bascou University of Pittsburgh

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Graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2016 with a B.A. in Anthropology and a B.S. in Biology and Chemistry. Research experience includes the use of robotics in K-12 education at the University of Pittsburgh's Learning Research and Development Center and research into neural pathways involved in the onset and treatment of Schizophrenia at the Anthony Grace Lab at the University of Pittsburgh. Future plans include the pursuit of an M.D. and PhD in biological psychiatry.

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Muhsin Menekse Purdue University

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Muhsin Menekse is an assistant professor at the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University, with a joint appointment at the Department of Curriculum & Instruction. Dr. Menekse’s primary research investigates how classroom activities affect conceptual understanding in engineering and science for all students. His second research focus is on verbal interactions that can enhance productive discussions in collaborative learning settings. And his third research focus is on metacognition and its implications for learning. Much of this research focuses on learning processes in classroom settings. Dr. Menekse is the recipient of the 2014 William Elgin Wickenden Award by the American Society for Engineering Education.

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Robotics In K-12 Formal And Informal Learning Environments: A Review Of Literature

In the past fifteen years, researchers have taken great initiative in publishing vast quantities of studies that demonstrate robotics ability to facilitate heightened student comprehension and interest, namely in fields of engineering, physics, mathematics, and computing. While earlier studies generally pondered the question of whether educational robots were a mere fad, rather than a truly valuable educational tool, more recent publications often presuppose their effectiveness, and instead consider strategies for optimizing the possible benefits of educational platforms.

In spite of the large and rapidly growing body of literature that pertains to robotics usage in education, there persists a need to connect the theoretical basis of their usage to how they are functionally and pragmatically implemented in practice. With that said, the goal of this paper was to conduct a comprehensive literature review of the studies that consider the implementation of robotics in K-12 STEM education both in formal and informal learning environments. In addition to highlighting the reasons necessitating educational robotics research and outlining the tenets of constructivism, this review worked to identify common themes encountered throughout the literature, and attempted to systematically classify 125 publications based on how well their results exemplify each theme. To obtain the studies on which our analysis was based, we thoroughly scanned multiple online databases, including and excluding certain articles in relation to a set of derived inclusion/exclusion principles. Our analysis suggests educational robots allow for an integrated, multi-disciplinary pedagogical approach that involves a synthesis of many technical and social topics, which encourage students to make mental connections and associations between a breadth of engineering, physics, and mechanistic concepts. We conclude that in order to motivate students and optimize the learning process, it is imperative that researchers and K-12 teachers incorporate—in combination with robotic platforms—a wide range of sociological, cognitive, and affective methodologies.

Bascou, N. A., & Menekse, M. (2016, June), Robotics in K-12 Formal and Informal Learning Environments: A Review of Literature Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26119

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