OLYMPIADS IN INFORMATICS, 2015, Vol. 9, pp. 89 - 112
© IOI, Vilnius University

ISSN 1822-7732

DOI: 10.15388/ioi.2015.08

The Effectiveness of Robotics Competitions on Students’ Learning of Computer Science

Fatima KALOTI-HALLAK, Michal ARMONI, Mordechai (Moti) BEN-ARI

Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
e-mail: fatima.kaloti.hallak@gmail.com, michal.armoni@weizmann.ac.il, moti.ben-ari@weizmann.ac.il

Abstract

This work investigates students’ learning of computer science (CS) as part of a research project on students’ learning of and attitudes toward STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects during their participation in robotics activities. The population consisted of groups of middle-school students (ages 13–15 years) who participated in the FIRST®LEGO® League competition. The methodology used is both qualitative and quantitative using questionnaires, observations and interviews during the school year 2012–2013, and mainly group interviews during the school year 2013–2014. A representational model was used during the interviews to facilitate externalizing the students’ understanding of STEM concepts. The analysis used the revised Bloom Taxonomy (BT) to study the students’ meaningful learning. Two CS concepts were investigated: input-output and interfacing with sensors. The results showed that during their preparation for the competition, almost all the students demonstrated meaningful learning, although some students reached higher levels of the BT than others.

Keywords:

computer science, middle-school, extra curriculum, robotics, competitions, FLL.


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