Robots can be used in education as teaching assistants for children. For example, robots can teach competencies including mathematics, engineering, collaboration, imagination and self-expression. In this blog post I will discuss a scientific study about the use of a robot as a teacher. More specifically, what do children think about a robot teacher?
Design of the study
This study explored the attitudes of children towards the use of a robot in an educational context. A robot and a human teacher taught basic programming concepts to 2 different groups of children between 6 to 16 years old. So, some children were taught by the human teacher, whereas other kids were taught by the robot. First, the human teacher and the robot gave a short lecture. After that, they explained associated exercises. Finally, children solved the exercises and completed a questionnaire about their attitudes towards robots.
Robot teacher versus human teacher
Were there any differences between the 2 groups about their attitudes towards robots? There were differences between age groups and children lectured by a robot versus human teacher. Especially age seems to be important for children’s attitudes towards robots.
- Most of the children felt comfortable interacting with robots. Younger kids were more worried than older kids about how robots move, how strong they are or what they are going to do. Older children may have been more exposed to technology and may understand better how robots work.
- Children who interacted with the robot were less worried about the robot’s behavior than children who did not interact with the robot. For example, the majority of children who interacted with the robot reported they would not feel uneasy if robots really had emotions, whereas children who did not interact with the robot did not feel like this.
Robot teachers can be used to teach children certain competencies. This study found that most kids felt comfortable interacting with robots.
Fernández-Llamas, C., Conde, M. A., Rodríguez-Lera, F. J., Rodríguez-Sedano, F. J., & García, F. (2018). May I teach you? Students’ behavior when lectured by robotic vs. human teachers. Computers in Human Behavior, 80, 460-469.