Lines, roamers, and squares: Oh my! using floor robots to enhance Hispanic students’ understanding of programming

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Education and Information Technologies


Teaching programming and coding skills in K-12 classrooms is becoming a part of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs across the United States. Often, these opportunities are available through extra-curricular activities such as Robotics club, math club, STEM club, etc. Increasing STEM opportunities for students who are English language learners, culturally and linguistically diverse learners, and/or students from underserved backgrounds is vital. In a pilot study prior to a larger, grant-funded study on the effects of metacognitive strategy instruction on elementary students’ academic performance, the principal investigator (PI) developed an activity with a corresponding assessment instrument. The PI initially incorporated floor-robots into an activity in two fifth grade science classrooms. Pre/post survey analysis provided encouraging results. To follow up on the initial results, the PI and co-principal investigators (co-PIs) introduced floor-robots into eight additional fourth and fifth grade science classrooms over an additional school year, as well as in an after-school setting, to determine how floor-robots might be used effectively to engage elementary students in STEM learning. The investigators introduced over 257 elementary students to three types of floor-robots, and this provided students with opportunities to have hands-on access to programming and coding robots for specific purposes. Of the 257 students who interacted with the floor-robots, approximately 103 were provided with pre/post surveys on Roamer®, one of the floor-robots. Additional data analysis provided surprising and encouraging results.

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