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The 3 Rs of Education: Reading, Writing, and… Robotics? Students’ Literacy Development with LEGO® Robotics
AuthorBedford, Melissa Jane
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Two areas in education that researchers continue to address are: (1) the search for best practices to support students who are language learners with academic success (Lesaux & Geva, 2006; Lesaux, Kieffer, Kelley, & Harris, 2014; Wilson, Fang, Rollins, & Valadez, 2016); and (2) the increased inclusion of STEM-related activities in educational settings (Barak & Zadok, 2009; Mitnik, Nussbaum, & Soto, 2008; Sullivan, 2008). The purpose of this qualitative, case study was to examine the use of robotics – a STEM-related activity – with connections to the literacy development of students identified as language learners during an eight-week, community-based robotics program. Additional attention was paid towards the students’ development and application of academic vocabulary within the program. The theoretical framework for this study was framed by Papert’s (1993) theory of constructionism and Long’s (1996) interaction hypothesis for language acquisition. The major findings from this study collapsed into the following themes: (1) informational texts; (2) writing; and (3) dialogue. Overall, findings from this study showed providing students with a specific task (i.e., constructing and programming a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robot) promoted research, writing, and communication, in which the students encountered and used academic vocabulary. This study demonstrates the potential robotics has in supporting the literacy and academic vocabulary development of students who are language learners, and encourages the need for additional research on the use of robotics in educational settings and non-STEM-related fields.