Evaluating the role of a humanoid robot to support learning in children with profound and multiple disabilities

Joseph Hedgecock (Medical Student, based at Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
P.J. Standen (Professor in Health Psychology and Learning Disabilities, based at Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Charlotte Beer (Research and Teaching Fellow, based at Division of Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
David Brown (Professor in Interactive Systems for Social Inclusion, based at School of Science and Technology, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)
David S. Stewart (Headteacher, based at Oak Field School and Sports College, Nottingham, UK)

Journal of Assistive Technologies

ISSN: 1754-9450

Publication date: 9 September 2014

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify ways teachers might employ a robot to achieve learning objectives with pupils with intellectual disabilities and potential outcome measures.

Design/methodology/approach

A series of five case studies where teacher-pupil dyads were observed during five planned video-recorded sessions with a humanoid robot. Engagement was rated in a classroom setting and during the last session with the robot. Video recordings were analysed for duration of engagement, teacher assistance and number of goals achieved.

Findings

Teachers identified a wide range of learning objectives ranging from an appreciation of cause and effect to improving the pupil's sense of direction. The robot's role could be to reward behaviour, provide cues or provide an active element to learning. Rated engagement was significantly higher with the robot than in the classroom.

Research limitations/implications

A robot with a range of functions that allowed it to be engaging and motivating for the wide range of pupils in special education would be expensive and require teachers to learn how to use it. The findings identify ways to provide evidence that this expenditure of time and money is worthwhile.

Originality/value

There is almost no research teachers can refer to on using robots to support learning in children with intellectual disabilities. This paper is therefore of value for researchers who wish to investigate using robots to educate children with intellectual disabilities, as it can provide vital information to aid study design.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was completed as part of a BMedSci project at the University of Nottingham and received no external funding.

Citation

Hedgecock, J., Standen, P., Beer, C., Brown, D. and S. Stewart, D. (2014), "Evaluating the role of a humanoid robot to support learning in children with profound and multiple disabilities", Journal of Assistive Technologies, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 111-123. https://doi.org/10.1108/JAT-02-2014-0006

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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