Access to math activities for children with disabilities by controlling Lego robots via augmentative and alternative communication devices

  • Author / Creator
    Adams, Kimberley
  • Children who have complex communication needs often use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices and strategies to address their communication requirements. If they have concurrent physical impairments, they may have difficulty accessing educational materials, especially when manipulation of items is used to enhance learning. This study consisted of three case studies with children who used their own speech generating device (SGD) to control a Lego robot to do math measurement lessons. System use was examined by measuring participant performance in math measurement lessons, describing the process of using the system, and contrasting system use with other methods of accomplishing math measurement activities. The study informed the underlying theories driving the study: that being able to do hands-on activities in learning is beneficial, that integration of AAC and manipulation in educational activities is important, and that assistive robots can bridge the functional gap between participant abilities and activity requirements. The teacher measured participants’ procedural knowledge based on how they manipulated items using the robot. She measured participants’ conceptual understanding, use of appropriate language, and explanation of reasoning based on their communication. The participants used SGD output, non-verbal communication and the robot to communicate. The study showed that manipulation and communication can be interrelated and that having access to both enhanced the participants’ message. Using the robot as a tool in these math lessons had some limitations, but they were easily compensated for by the teacher. The efficiency of using the robot to accomplish tasks was lower than observing the teacher, but there were benefits in terms of effectiveness and participant satisfaction. Stakeholders felt that using the robot was a more effective way for participants to "show what they know" than observing the teacher and guiding her based on her questions. Using the robot also had some perceived benefits in terms of effectiveness as a learning tool with regards to motivation, engagement, and hands-on experience. In general, participants were more satisfied using the robot than watching the teacher do the math activities. However, improving robot task efficiency would further improve user satisfaction and this challenge will be addressed in future studies.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Cook, Albert (Speech Language Pathology)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Warren, Sharon (Rehabilitation Medicine)
    • Light, Janice (Communication Sciences and Disorders, Pennsylvania State University)
    • Sobsey, Dick (Educational Psychology)
    • Boechler, Patricia (Educational Psychology)