Repurposing the Learning Environment: Using Robots to Engage and Support Students in Collaborative Learning through Assessment Design

Martina Doolan, Michael Walters

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Citation (Scopus)
58 Downloads (Pure)


This paper presents a case study related to the setting up and the implementation of a multi-mode blended learning environment driven by an assessment design. The technological blend comprised access to robots and an online group space. The pedagogical blend included the assessment design and teaching and learning practice informed by current research taking place in the School of Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire. Learners were provided with access to the research centre and the robotics house to help progress and complete the group based assessment and this was supplemented by class-based learning.

The overall aim was to repurpose the learning environment and shift the emphasis from teacher-centric to learner-centric practices in order to motivate and engage learners in authentic group based assessment. Additionally, emphasis was placed on learners’ sharing work on their assessment as it progressed using a mini-project approach. This constructively aligned with the assessment and the subject delivery. In this learner-centric environment learners alongside the teacher administered feedback to students on their work as it progressed. This was intended to provide an opportunity for learners to develop their understanding and skills and take the necessary corrective action.

Learner attitude was captured quantitatively by means of a questionnaire. Qualitative data was obtained using learners’ own reflections of their experience. This was provided in the form of students’ explanations of their answers to questions posed on the questionnaire. Overall learning was measured using the learner’s performance on the assessment. There are some interesting findings including learner views on the assessment design, how access to the robots and the research centre supported their learning and the learners’ overall perceptions of learning in the multi-modal blended learning environment.

These findings will add to the debate on how we engage with and support learners who are growing up in a digital world and provides an example of how we can do this by taking a research-informed teaching approach to the practice of learning driven by an assessment design using robots.

Keywords: Robots-in-learning, Research-Informed-Teaching, Research-Informed-Learning, Collaborative Learning, Assessment Design
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 15th European Conference on e-Learning
EditorsAntonín Janaík, Jarmila Novotná
Place of PublicationPrague, Czech Republic
PublisherAcademic Conferences International (ACI)
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-911218-17-3
ISBN (Print)978-1-911218-18-0
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2016
EventECEL 2016: 15th European Conference on e-Learning - Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Duration: 27 Oct 201628 Oct 2016


ConferenceECEL 2016
Country/TerritoryCzech Republic
Internet address


  • Research-Informed-Teaching
  • Robots-in-learning
  • Assessment Design
  • Collaborative Learning
  • Research-Informed-Learning


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