1 Universidade de Santiago de Compostela (SPAIN)
2 Escola Superior de Educação do Instituto Politécnico do Porto (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2021 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 10066-10072
ISBN: 978-84-09-27666-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2021.2102
Conference name: 15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-9 March, 2021
Location: Online Conference
During the past decade, several experiments on educational robotics have been conducted around the world. The majority of these experiments have been targeting the development of computational thinking, in order to promote not only digital literacy, but also the development of cognitive, relational and psychological skills.

This exploratory study focused on the literature about educational robotics in early childhood that was produced up to now. The goal was to summarize the state of the art and to integrate its main conclusions, in other to draft guidelines to further research on this field. We designed an instrument of analysis of the studies on tangible computer programming with robots with clear inclusion and exclusion criteria. This 15-item instrument had four categories: bibliometrics, context, methods, and content. From this revision protocol, we got a final N of 40 papers, all published in free-access scientific journals.

The bibliometric results indicate that 70% of the papers were published between 2017 and 2019, and that 55% of them were indexed to Scopus. In terms of context, we verified that 93% of the studies used samples of children whose age range included 5. Sixty per cent of the samples had less than 50 participants. Methodologically, 43% of the studies were qualitative, 35% were quantitative and 17% were mixed. Finally, the results of the content category indicated that experiments of all the studies aimed to promote cognitive skills. Among them, 28% also aimed to promote relational and/or psychological skills. 40% of the experiments used Bee-bot or Blue-bot robots, 28% used LEGO robotic kits, and 15% used KIBO or KIWI kits.

We concluded that children appear to tend to be motivated with and excited about robots, therefore they can be an educational tool. Robots seem to promote active learning, socialization (via communication, collaboration, negotiation and sharing, e.g.). The experiments can be not only adapted to the target’s age, but also integrated in every school subjects’ curriculum.

The main limitations reported in these studies were low-skilled kindergarten teachers (in terms of programming and robotics), scarce number of available robotic devices, and small samples. The lack of longitudinal studies that could analyze the long-term effects of the experiments on children was also pointed as a major limitation. Further studies should address these aspects in other to expand the scientific knowledge we have on the effects of including tangible computer programming experiments in early childhood education.
Early childhood education, Educational robotics, Tangible programming, Systematic review.