Robot-Supported Collaborative Learning (RSCL): Social Robots as Teaching Assistants for Higher Education Small Group Facilitation

Rinat B. Rosenberg-Kima, Yaacov Koren, Goren Gordon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Acknowledging the benefits of active learning and the importance of collaboration skills, the higher education system has started to transform toward utilization of group activities into lecture hall culture. In this study, a novel interaction has been introduced, wherein a social robot facilitated a small collaborative group activity of students in higher education. Thirty-six students completed a 3 h activity that covered the main content of a course in Human Computer Interaction. In this within-subject study, the students worked in groups of four on three activities, moving between three conditions: instructor facilitation of several groups using pen and paper for the activity; tablets facilitation, also used for the activity; and robot facilitation, using tablets for the activity. The robot facilitated the activity by introducing the different tasks, ensuring proper time management, and encouraging discussion among the students. This study examined the effects of facilitation type on attitudes toward the activity facilitation, the group activity, and the robot, using quantitative, and qualitative measures. Overall students perceived the robot positively, as friendly and responsive, even though the robot did not directly respond to the students' verbal communications. While most survey items did not convey significant differences between the robot, tablet, or instructor, we found significant correlations between perceptions of the robot, and attitudes toward the activity facilitation, and the group activity. Qualitative data revealed the drawbacks and benefits of the robot, as well as its relative perceived advantages over a human facilitator, such as better time management, objectivity, and efficiency. These results suggest that the robot's complementary characteristics enable a higher quality learning environment, that corresponds with students' requirements and that a Robot Supportive Collaborative Learning (RSCL) is a promising novel paradigm for higher education.

Original languageEnglish
Article number148
JournalFrontiers in Robotics and AI
StatePublished - 10 Jan 2020


  • active learning
  • collaborative learning
  • educational technology
  • higher education
  • human-robot interaction
  • social-robots


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