Using control heuristics as a means to explore the educational potential of robotics kits

Part of : Themes in science and technology education ; Vol.6, No.1, 2013, pages 15-28

The educational potential of robotics kits as a form of control technology will remain undervalued until meaningful observation parameters are identified to enable a better understanding of children‟s control strategies. For this reason, this paper aims primarily to identify and classify the heuristics spontaneously applied by 6-10 year old children interacting with robotic devices containing specific transparency features (i.e. programmability) and interactivity features (i.e. immediacy of feedback). Two studies are described: an exploratory investigation into the control of a Lynx AL5A arm and a pilot study about the control of a Lego Mindstorms NXT®. Two issues relating to control heuristics are addressed: the heuristic shift and the perceived and objective level of task difficulty. The results demonstrate that three main types of heuristic emerge: (i) procedural-oriented, (ii) declarative-oriented, and (iii) metacognitive-oriented. Limitations of the difficulty indicators used and shift patterns proposed are discussed in relation to future research.
Subject (LC):
educational robots, control heuristics, interactivity, transparency, Lego Mindstorms NXT®
The research reported here was partially supported by the European 7th FWP - PRI-SCI-NET ( Project Reference: 266647. The exploratory study was made possible by volunteers from the Planète Science Association, in particular Clement Quinson. The pilot study was made possible by a partnership with Carréfour Numérique (Cité des Sciences et de l‟lndustrie) who supported us by providing the assistance of a number of people who we would like to thank: David Forgereon, Isabelle Chabanon Pouget, Helena Ragot, Adrien Schwarz, Thierry Thibault, Lou Panier. Thanks to Carol-Ann Pinaud for her involvement in the data logging and retranscription.
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