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Graduate Defense: Jon Yogi

November 28 @ 3:30 pm - 5:30 pm MST

Dissertation Information

Title: The Effect of Group Interactions and Group Structure on Achievement in Elementary School Robotics Classrooms

Program: Doctor of Education in Educational Technology

Advisor: Dr. Youngkyun Baek, Educational Technology

Committee Members: Dr. Kerry Rice, Educational Technology, and Dr. Jesús Trespalacios, Educational Technology


Jung and Won’s (2018) review of elementary school ER found a lack of understanding of instructional practices for ER with young children. Other researchers have called for further studies into what effective classroom orchestration and interaction look like within ER classrooms (Ioannou & Makridou, 2018; Xia & Zhong, 2019). This study was conducted to understand the effect of group interactions and group structure in terms of gender on achievement in elementary school robotics classes. Knowing how interactions affect students’ achievement can help inform instructional practices and pedagogies in educational robotics activities (Kucuk & Sisman, 2017). The study was conducted at a primary school in Nonthaburi, Thailand. The participants included 103 second-grade students (44 male, 59 female). An embedded mixed methods research design was used as a framework to make observations of interactions, conduct a robotics assessment, and analyze the data from the assessment. Cooperative learning (CL), which is the use of small instructional groups to maximize learning (Johnson et al., 1999), was used as a lens for observing student interactions. Group processing, positive interdependence, and promotive interactions are some of the primary elements of CL and were used as classifications of student interactions in the robotics classrooms and during the assessment. The robotics assessment consisted of multiple challenges where students were given a score for their skills of generalization, algorithmic thinking, and their Level of Achievement (LoA). The LoA was the sum of all the challenges completed. The mean scores of the student’s assessment results were analyzed using one-way ANOVAs to explore the effect of group structure and interaction types on achievement. It was found that the types of interactions in a group can have an effect on achievement depending on the types of robotics challenges. It was also found that gender did not affect the student’s LoA during their robotics assessment, but it did have an effect on the types of interactions seen among students. It is recommended that for simpler robotics challenges that utilize basic generalization skills, instructors should try to facilitate promotive interactions within the classroom groups. For more advanced robotics challenges that utilize algorithmic thinking skills, instructors should try to facilitate group processing within their classroom groups. It is also recommended that to facilitate promotive interactions, homogeneous gender groupings should be used. To facilitate group processing or positive interdependence interactions, heterogeneous gender groupings should be used.