How Parents Support Children’s Informal Learning Experiences with Robots
Keywords:Early childhood, Robotics, Collaborative Learning, Parents, Scaffolding
Coding and robotic technologies are becoming more prominent in early childhood STEM education. Parents, who are key facilitators of children’s early educational experiences, are increasingly invited to engage with their children in collaborative robotics activities. Few studies have focused on the ways in which parents support young children’s informal learning experiences involving robots. This paper presents two different approaches to exploring how parents support young children’s engagement. Both studies involve KIBO, a screen-free robot programmed with tangible wooden blocks. The first approach brought together children ages 5-7 with their parents in small groups for 1-2-hour “KIBO Family Day” workshops. Findings from parent surveys (N = 51) indicated that these workshops significantly enhanced families’ interest in coding. Parents also reported engaging as coaches, whereas children engaged as playmates and planners. To further explore the role of parents as coaches, three parent-child dyads were invited to participate in a 20-minute videotaped KIBO play session. Findings indicated that parents predominantly used cognitive scaffolding strategies, such as asking questions, offering suggestions, and verbally acknowledging their child’s actions. Affective and technical scaffolding strategies were used less frequently. Study limitations and implications for practice and future research are discussed.
Albo-Canals, J., Martelo, A. B., Relkin, E., Hannon, D., Heerink, M., Heinemann, M., … Bers, M. U. (2018). A pilot study of the KIBO robot in children with severe ASD. International Journal of Social Robotics, 10(3), 371–383. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12369-018-0479-2.
Barron, B., Martin, C. K., Takeuchi, L., & Fithian, R. (2009). Parents as learning partners in the development of technological fluency. International Journal of Learning and Media, 1, 55-77.
Beals, L., & Bers, M. U. (2006). Robotic technologies: when parents put their learning ahead of their child’s. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 17(4), 341-366.
Bers, M. U. (2007). Project InterActions: A Multigenerational Robotic Learning Environment. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 16, 537-552.
Bers, M.U. (2018). Coding as a playground: Programming and computational thinking in the early childhood classroom. New York, NY: Routledge press.
Code.org. (2020). K-12 Computer Science Policy and Implementation in the States. Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/document/d/15zBdBbXUA- yEzxEq0VeWAEb9nXuGjmNFWNrYp6UdM8U/edit
Cuellar, F., Penaloza, C., & Kato, G. (2013). Robotics education initiative for parent-children interaction. IEEE RO-MAN, 364-365. doi: 10.1109/ROMAN.2013.6628499.
Dell’Antonia, K. (2014, June 2). The Computer Code for Parental Feelings of Inadequacy. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/06/02/the-computer-code-for-parental-feelings-of-inadequacy/
Druga, S., Williams, R., Park, H. W., & Breazeal, C. (2018). How smart are the smart toys? children and parents’ agent interaction and intelligence attribution. In Proceedings of the 17th ACM Conference on Interaction Design and Children(pp. 231-240).
Elkin, M., Sullivan, A., & Bers, M.U. (2016). Programming with the KIBO robotics kit in preschool classrooms. Computers in the Schools, 33(3), 169-186
Falk, J. H., Koran, J. Jr., & Dierking, L. D. (1986). The things of science: Assessing the learning potential of science museums. Science Education, 70, 503-508. doi: 10.1002/sce.3730700504
Feng, H. C., Lin, C. H., & Liu, E. Z. F. (2011). Parents’ perceptions of educational programmable bricks for kids. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(2), E30– E33.
Govind, M., Relkin, E., & Bers, M. U. (2020). Engaging Children and Parents to Code Together Using the ScratchJr App. Visitor Studies. DOI: 10.1080/10645578.2020.1732184.
Horn, M., & Bers, M. (2019). Tangible Computing. In S. A. Fincher & A. V. Robins (Eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of Computing Education Research. Cambridge University Press.
Hughes, M., Wikeley, F., & Nash, T. (1994). Parents and their children’s schools. Oxford: Blackwells.
K-12 Computer Science Framework Steering Committee (2016). K–12 computer science framework. Retrieved from https://k12cs.org/
Lee, K. T. H., Sullivan, A., & Bers, M. U. (2013). Collaboration by Design: Using Robotics to Foster Social Interaction in Kindergarten. Computers in the Schools, 30(3), 271–281. https://doi.org/10.1080/07380569.2013.805676
Lin, J. M., & Liu, S. F. (2012). An investigation into parent-child collaboration in learning computer programming. Educational Technology and Society, 15(1), 162–173.
National Early Literacy Panel. (2008). Developing early literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel. Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy.
Parker, F. L., Boak, A. Y., Griffin, K. W., Ripple, C., & Peay, L. (1999). Parent-child relationship, home learning environment, and school readiness. School Psychology Review; Bethesda, 28(3), 413.
Pearce, J., & Borba, S. (2017). What is Family Code Night? Retrieved from https://www.naesp.org/blog/what-family-code-night
Piazza, E. A., Hasenfratz, L., Hasson, U., & Lew-Williams, C. (2020). Infant and adult brains are coupled to the dynamics of natural communication. Psychological Science, 31(1), 6-17.
Resnick, M., & Silverman, B. (2005). Some reflections on designing construction kits for kids. In Proceeding of the Conference on Interaction Design and Children (pp. 117–122). Boulder, Colorado: ACM Press. DOI: 10.1145/1109540.1109556
Rideout, V. (2017). The common sense census: Media use by kids age zero to eight. San Francisco, CA: Common Sense Media.
Roque, R. (2016). Family Creative Learning. In Peppler, K., Kafai, Y., & Halverson, E. (Eds.) Makeology in K-12, Higher, and Informal Education. New York, NY: Routledge.
Roque, R., Lin, K. & Liuzzi, R. (2015). Engaging parents as creative learning partners in computing. Exploring the Material Conditions of Learning, 2, 687-688.
Roque, R., Lin, K., & Liuzzi, R. (2016). “I’m Not Just a Mom”: Parents Developing Multiple Roles in Creative Computing. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference of the Learning Sciences. Singapore.
Sanford, C., Knutson, K., & Crowley, K. (2007). “We Always Spend Time Together on Sundays”: How Grandparents and Their Grandchildren Think About and Use Informal Learning Spaces. Visitor Studies, 10(2), 136-151. doi: 10.1080/10645570701585129
Startup For Kids (n.d.). Startup For Kids. https://events.startupforkids.fr/
Sullivan, A., Bers, M.U., & Mihm, C. (2017). Imagining, Playing, & Coding with KIBO: Using KIBO Robotics to Foster Computational Thinking in Young Children. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Computational Thinking Education. Wanchai, Hong Kong.
Sullivan, A. & Bers, M.U. (2018). Investigating the use of robotics to increase girls’ interest in engineering during early elementary school. International Journal of Technology and Design Education.
Taylor, D. (1983). Family literacy: Young children learning to read and write. Exeter, NH: Heinemann.
The Toy Association (2017). STEM/STEAM Formula for Success. Retrieved from https://www.toyassociation.org/App_Themes/toyassociation_resp/downloads/research/whitepapers/stemsteam-formulaforsuccess-2019.pdf