The impact of robotics activities on learning and attitudes of middle school students
Robots (such as the LEGO Mindstorms) are widely used in middle schools and high schools. This project investigates if meaningful learning of STEM subjects (specifically, computer science, engineering, mathematics, and physics) occurs when taking part in robotics activities. We also examine affective aspects, such as students’ attitudes toward and motivation for robotics and STEM subjects during their participation in robotics activities. The population consisted of selected groups of middle-school students (ages 13-15 years) who participated in the FIRST® LEGO® League competition. The results showed that during their preparation for the competition, almost all the students demonstrated meaningful learning, although some students reached higher cognitive levels than others. Several factors influenced the students‘ learning of STEM subjects: (a) the competitive nature vs. the curricular position of the activities; (b) the teaching pedagogy, the students‘ learning style and the teacher‘s background; (c) the unstable nature of the design of the robot; and (d) the students‘ attitudes and motivation. Moreover, the research results observed certain learning styles that seemed to play a role in gaining knowledge and achieving a specific learning level: (a) trial and error, (b) learning on demand, and (c) discovery learning.
The results regarding the students‘ attitudes and motivation showed no significant difference between the beginning of the activities and after the activities. The students demonstrated high and positive attitudes and motivation when they started their activities and this remained high at the end of the activities. The environmental factors played an important role in positively influencing students‘ attitudes and motivation. In particular, females showed more positive attitudes and motivation at the end of the activities.
This is the doctoral research of Fatima Kaloti-Hallak.
Links for further reading
- Kaloti-Hallak, F., Armoni, M., & Ben-Ari, M. (2015). Students’ attitudes and motivation during robotics activities. In Proceedings of the 10th Workshop in Primary and Secondary Computing Education (WiPSCE’15), London, UK, 102-110.
- Kaloti-Hallak, F., Armoni, M., & Ben-Ari, M. (2015). The effectiveness of robotics competitions on students’ learning of computer science. International Olympiad in Informatics 9, 89-112.
- Kaloti-Hallak, F., Armoni, M., & Ben-Ari, M. (2019). The effectiveness of robotics competitions on students’ learning of computer science. Informatics in Education, 18(1), 105-129.