ABS Consulting Group, Inc.: Home | Blog | Resume | Speaking | Publications

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Yikes! Robot Teacher Lectures, Engages Students!

Sometimes researchers simply ask the wrong question.

Researchers from UW-Madison explored ways to made lectures stick in the minds of students. And, sadly, they were successful.

The story telling robots, which worked one-on-one with students were most successful when they received feedback that the student's attention was drifting. That was measured by an EEG. When interest waned, the robot was programmed to do what a human teacher might: it raised its voice or moved its arms in a meaningful way related to the story.

Students who heard stories from a robot thus outfitted answered more questions correctly about the content than those with a robot which did not make such changes or did them randomly. The research was presented at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Austin, Texas, in May.

But is that the right question? Should the question perhaps be: How else besides via a lecture can a teacher, robot, or computer teach the content?

- New Scientist