Does Inquiry-based Education Using Robots Have an Effect on Learners’ Inquiry Skills, Subject Knowledge and Skills, and Motivation?

Margus Pedaste, Heilo Altin


Robots have been applied in science education for a long time. Inquiry-based learning, as a student-centred method to discover different relations, has been considered as an effective learning approach in science education and robots are often used to apply student-guided inquiry. It is, however, not clear what the effect of inquiry-based scenarios is in learning science when students’ motivation and novelty effect are taken into account. In our study, we tested seven inquiry-based scenarios in secondary school physics with a sample of 47 students in the experiment classes and 41 in the control classes. Results revealed that the inquire-based scenarios improved students’ inquiry skills and subject knowledge and skills in the case of the experiment classes and also in the case of the control classes. Study motivation did not improve in the study, explained by the fact that the schools have used robots previously in learning and the novelty effect has faded out. Based on our discussion, the use of robots in education needs to focus more on supporting students’ thinking activities and on increasing their awareness about their own skills and learning process. Further studies are needed to understand in-depth how teachers’ activities in the classroom might have an effect on the usability of robots in education and how students’ thinking and awareness of the learning process could be improved in order to have a stronger effect on learning outcomes as well.


robotics education; inquiry-based learning; inquiry skills; study motivation; physics learning.

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