Promoting Social Collaboration using Social Robots: Sarah Strohkorb

In our increasingly interactive world, collaboration is becoming more essential to many parts of life, including learning, work, and everyday social interactions. Collaboration is a useful and often necessary tool for many professions and occupational fields including nursing, education, software design and engineering, and business. It has been suggested as a strategy for solving large-scale social and environmental problems. Effective collaboration also enhances creativity, improves problem-solving ability, and increases learning gains.
Due to the high value placed on collaborative and teamwork skills, the development of these skills in primary, secondary, and post-secondary settings is highly important. However, most teachers in today’s education systems do not explicitly focus on their students’ growth in this area. They may put students together for group projects, but provide minimal support within each team to promote good collaboration between team members. Even with new teaching approaches that incorporate more group work and team activities, students are not taught collaborative skills, but are expected to `pick them up’ as they go.
In order to promote the growth and use of teamwork skills in children, we propose using a social robot that serves as both as a peer in the interaction and a promoter of collaborative skill use. We are interested to see if and how a social robot can promote collaborative behaviors.