Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mathematical Sciences

First Advisor

R. F. Fronk

Second Advisor

P. B. Horton

Third Advisor

J. R. Newman

Fourth Advisor

W. K. Gabreyna


This study investigated whether robotics could significantly improve science achievement scores or problem solving scores as compared to battery powered manipulatives or an untreated traditionally taught control. Also examined was whether there were interactions between treatment group membership and ADHD Rating Scale scores, and treatment group membership and the learning styles subscales auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic. Fifteen fourth through sixth grade classes, involving 364 students from three schools participated in this study. A fifth grade science unit on force, motion, and machines was taught for 20-30 minutes daily, followed by a 50-60 minute robotics session. The treatments lasted for 1 or 2 weeks, with the 1 week treatments using a counterbalanced design. There were no significant differences on the science achievement scores for the 1 or 2 week treatments, for both the battery and untreated controls. Overall problem solving showed no significant differences between the robotics and the battery control for both the 1 and 2 week treatment. A significant difference favoring the battery and treatment groups and the combined battery/treatment set was found in overall problem solving. Problem solving 1 programming logic showed a significant difference favoring the robotics groups when compared to both the battery and the untreated controls. No interaction was found between treatment mode and either ADHD Rating scale scores (high scores being defined as two standard deviations above the mean for age and sex) or the set of kinesthetic, tactile, auditory, and visual learning styles. Lack of significant interaction was consistent for both the 1 and 2 week treatments on all 3 posttests (science achievement and both problem solving tests). These results suggest that robotics may be no more effective than battery powered manipulatives or traditional science enrichment on science achievement. Overall problem solving results suggest that some form of manipulative (battery or robotics powered) task is more effective than traditional reinforcement. Programming problem solving appears to need robotics opportunities. Students with all four learning styles and various ADHD Rating Scale scores did equally well in both treatments. Recommendations included replicating the study with no pretreatment "lecture", use of nonpaper/pencil tests, and extended treatment time.


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