Title: Teaching children a programming language with robots
Language: English
Authors: Vittori, Lisa 
Qualification level: Diploma
Keywords: Roboter; Programmiersprache
Robot; Programming language
Advisor: Vincze, Markus 
Assisting Advisor: Lammer, Lara
Issue Date: 2015
Number of Pages: 139
Qualification level: Diploma
Robots have been considered in teaching programming, because they are are seen as a vehicle to motivate younger students and introduce them to programming and engineering principles, especially computational thinking (abstraction, generalization, algorithm, modularity, decomposition and problem solving). When teaching introductory programming two main problems are identified in the related literature and studies: One is the loss of motivation, which can be observed in students not doing exercises or dropping out of computer science education or courses, and which is also remarked by students in interviews. Second is high failure rate during exams or failing a whole course. Qualitative analysis of the reasons shows that many students have only surface knowledge of the relevant topics. Educational robotics seems a good tool to counter these two problems. Therefore I developed a curriculum for introductory programming with educational robotics. Robots give the opportunity to use constructionism or learning by making as a central didactic method. As a leitmotiv throughout the curriculum I use the story of Sasbot - Seek-and-spot robot - which gives the students a goal to reach. Since this goal is far away at the end of the course, I use quick-win situations for students like challenges and small competitions to keep them motivated through out the course. Team work is used as an explicit teaching tool. To counter the problem of having only surface knowledge, I try to introduce every new concept with as much relation to previous knowledge as possible, similar to the idea of anchor graphs and meaningful learning. Since the problem of designing a program is identified to be one of the most problematic concepts by several studies, I show explicitly how to make design steps, which is additionally supported by the tangible environment with the robots. The concept is intended for introductory programming courses in technical high schools especially with focus on computer science. This leads to the necessity of teaching a programming language that is actually used by companies. Due to this context, I used Botball and the programming language C, because it allows me to focus on basic concepts like variables, functions and loops. The curriculum was evaluated in a case study with 45 students, who attended a programming workshop with robots consisting of five workshop blocks with three hours each, by analyzing the influence of the two basic problems: The motivation was evaluated with questions at different times of the workshops regarding the ongoing interest and additional qualitative observations of the students-behavior during the workshop times. To analyze the knowledge gained exam-like questions were used and solutions to the challenges and competitions during the workshops were additionally graded. I also supplemented this with protocols of the approaches the students took when solving a particular task. The evaluation of the workshop shows that the motivation was kept throughout the workshop and especially the challenges and competitions helped raising the motivational level after a longer session of explanations. An improvement of the exam results could not be clearly evaluated because of the differences between the workshop environment and the target context. The indications are promising.
URI: https://resolver.obvsg.at/urn:nbn:at:at-ubtuw:1-83336
Library ID: AC12696167
Organisation: E376 - Institut für Automatisierungs- und Regelungstechnik 
Publication Type: Thesis
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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