Education research

Overview

We're researching the use of social robots as learning companions in education settings.

Research project

Designing an Emotionally Engaging Learning Partner (EELP) robot for learning

Research area

  • Emotionally intelligent e-learning systems

Our partners

La Trobe University

Target industry

Education (Language)

Devices used

Emotionally Engaging Learning Partner (EELP) robot

Project overview

This research is motivated by the successful 10 month home-based field trials which paired socially assistive humanoid robots with adults (23 years and older) with autism.

We’ve designed an Emotionally Engaging Learning Partner (EELP) robot (named Sophie) to help with learning languages. The robot is designed engage learners, nurture self-confidence and make the process of learning languages entertaining. The EELP robot:

  • acts as an effective partner for diverse interactive practices in the target language
  • recognises the emotional state of learners (for example, anxiety, embarrassment, uncertainty) and responding accordingly.

The ultimate goal of an EELP robot is to contribute to cross-cultural communication and understanding and foster highly engaged learning. In the long term, EELP robots could have application in interactive learning of any content and across all age groups.

We often see second language learners who understand the target language but are reluctant and/or unskilled in speaking out, because of lack of practice and self-confidence. Many language learners find it challenging to practice speaking with others, since they fear making errors and embarrassment. They minimise talking, or avoid talking all together, although aware that language learning requires regular practice. We see this in English classes in Japan, and in Japanese language classes in Australia (where Japanese is one of the two most popular choices for second language study in secondary schools).

Project aims

This research project aims to:

  • determine whether the robot (Sophie) helps students to consolidate their new vocabulary
  • discover whether students feel more comfortable practising conversation skills with Sophie than with fellow students (in or outside of class)
  • establish whether Sophie and students in their second semester of foreign language study can conduct meaningful situation-based conversations
  • assess the quality of learning experienced with Sophie. measured by engagement and satisfaction levels among students
  • compare – to previous years – students’ willingness to engage in learning activities outside class
  • investigate whether storytelling and comprehension activities with Sophie aids students’ listening comprehension, reading comprehension and written expression in LOTE.

Outcome

The ultimate goal of the EELP robot is to contribute to cross-cultural communication and understanding and foster highly engaged learning. In the long term, EELP robots could have application in interactive learning of any content and across all age groups.

To establish the robot's effectiveness we need to benchmark the activities completed in and outside class with existing service delivery modes.