ANALYSIS OF ROBOTICS-BASED LEARNING INTERVENTIONS FOR PREVENTING SCHOOL FAILURE AND EARLY SCHOOL LEAVING IN GENDER CONTEXT
Early school leaving has become a problem plaguing many different countries around the world and several different solutions are being searched for. Gender, as a factor in early school leaving, has become a popular research topic among many researchers and has been displayed by recent OECD results that have shown that boys are dropping out of the education system more. Researchers are still debating whether or not the processes in school are inadequate for boys and so they're excluded out of the education system, the learning process is organized according to the needs of the girls, not taking into account the boys' learning needs, and how the boys organize information and how do they find it easier to learn etc., or whether they are factors that are outside the school environment, which makes them leave the education system early. For example, the lack of support from parents, the desire to quickly become independent and a desire for success, which they are unable to experience in school, a problem that is also related to motivation problems.
The idea behind the Erasmus+ project "Robotics-based learning interventions for preventing school failure and Early School Leaving” is to use robotics learning strategies to lessen the risks of early education leaving. Students from partnering schools in Greece, Italy and Latvia were chosen to participate in the project activities according to certain early school leaving criteria. Out of 62 students 44 were boys and 18 were girls, making it clear already at this stage of the project that boys are more subject to risks of early school leaving, even in the partnering schools. This research does not deal with analyzing whether it is the education system that tends to exclude boys from education, or some factors linked to their families, their special needs, etc. The robotics activities were organized for everyone equally regardless of their gender. The main objective was to spark the students’ interest in the learning process, promote their problem solving skills, promote their motivation and lessen the risks that they face every day in schools. The robotics activities were aimed at students’ getting actively involved in programming, testing their knowledge and constructing new knowledge. At the same time mutual cooperation among the students was promoted, because they had to work in groups with one robotics set, thus promoting the ability to communicate, support each other, discuss the knowledge to be acquired and solve problems. Regardless of the fact that everyone involved enjoyed participating in the activities, more positive feedback was received from the girls involved in the project.
The aim of this study was to investigate are there gender based diferences in how robotics-based learning activities tackle risks of ESL.
Data are collected by quantitative and qualitative research methods. The research tools make a mix method of investigation including mainly questionnaires before and after activities for students and teachers who were involved in activities, structured observation tool to collect results of activity observation. The SPSS programme was used to process the data, and analyse them together with data from observations and discussions with teachers.