According to a new study from the University of Waterloo, robots can help children with learning disabilities remain focused on their tasks. QT, a humanoid robot created by researchers, assisted instructors in one-on-one settings.

Both students and teachers valued the robot’s contributions to the classroom, according to the study. Professor of electrical and computer engineering Dr. Kerstin Dautenhahn stated, “Using robots in the public education system has tremendous potential.”

Dautenhahn has spent many years researching robotics in the context of disability and incorporates equity, inclusion, and diversity into her research projects. She has investigated the use of social robots to assist students in learning, but the majority of her research has focused on children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is the first study to examine the use of socially supportive robots for students with learning disabilities.

16 students were divided into two groups for the study. One group worked individually with an instructor, while the other worked individually with an instructor and a QT robot. The instructor would control the robot using a tablet, and the robot would perform activities autonomously using speech and gestures.

The robot was able to introduce the session, establish objectives, and provide strategies for self-regulation. Additionally, games, riddles, jokes, breathing exercises, and physical movements were used to refocus the student when necessary.

The results demonstrated that students who worked with the robot were more engaged with their assignments and completed them at a faster rate than those who did not. This study’s paper was presented in Florence, Italy, at the International Conference on Social Robotics.

The University of Waterloo has discovered that robots can be used to help children with learning disabilities remain focused on their assignments. Sixteen students participated in a series of tests utilising the humanoid robot QT during individual instruction sessions. The study found that both students and teachers valued the classroom robot’s positive contributions. Results indicated that students who worked with the robot were more engaged with their assignments and completed them at a faster rate than those who did not.

Professor of electrical and computer engineering Dr. Kerstin Dautenhahn stated, “Using robots in the public education system has tremendous potential.” She has investigated the use of social robots to assist students in learning, but the majority of her research has focused on children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This study examines the utilisation of socially supportive robots for students with learning disabilities.

The robot was capable of introducing the session, establishing objectives, and providing self-regulating strategies such as games, riddles, jokes, breathing exercises, and physical movements. It could also return students to their tasks when necessary.

This study demonstrates that robots have the potential to assist students with learning disabilities in reaching their academic potential. As researchers continue to investigate this area of technology for educational purposes, they intend to conduct additional studies involving robots.

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