Drawing on Latour’s (Reassembling the social: an introduction to actor–network-theory, Oxford University Press, New York, 2005), this manuscript discusses a study of a robotics class in a public, Title I elementary school. Compared with theoretical frameworks (e.g., constructivism and constructionism) dominant in the field of early childhood robotics education, the lens of ANT served to move beyond emphasizing a single element (i.e., either robotic tools or children’s work with teachers and parents) to seeing heterogeneous associations of multiple elements involved in robotics education. In these associations, human and non-human elements greatly contributed to implementing robotics activities. In particular, our analysis of three second-graders, who successfully met the instructional objectives set by our research team, revealed critical roles played by material actors (e.g., robotic manipulatives, engineer logs) and quasi-human/quasi-material actants (e.g., embodied simulation) in these children’s learning and performance. The findings of this study encourage educators to pay careful attention to multiple elements, including instructional materials and children’s bodily exploration, associated with teaching and learning.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
All names of people in this manuscript are pseudonyms.
Ackermann, E. (2010). Constructivism (s): Shared roots, crossed paths, multiple legacies. In Constructionism the 12th EuroLogo conference (pp. 1–9), Paris, France, 16–20 August 2010. http://linkedith.kaywa.com/files/PaperConstr.2010.EA.Final.pdf. Accessed 29 Oct 2016.
Beals, L., & Bers, M. (2006). Robotic technologies: When parents put their learning ahead of their child’s. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 17(4), 341–366.
Bennett, J. (2010). Vibrant matter: A political ecology of things. Durham: Duke University Press.
Benitti, F. B. V. (2012). Exploring the educational potential of robotics in schools: A systematic review. Computers & Education, 58(3), 978–988.
Berger, P. L., & Luckmann, T. (1991). The social construction of reality: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge. England: Penguin UK.
Bers, M., Flannery, L. P., Kazakoff, E. R., & Sullivan, A. (2014). Computational thinking and tinkering: Exploration of an early childhood robotics curriculum. Computers & Education, 72, 145–157.
Bers, M., New, B., & Boudreau, L. (2004). Teaching and learning when no one is expert: Children and parents explore technology. Journal of Early Childhood Research and Practice, 6(2), n2.
Bers, M., Ponte, I., Juelich, K., Viera, A., & Schenker, J. (2002). Teachers as designers: Integrating robotics in early childhood education. Information Technology in Childhood Education, 1, 123–145.
Bers, M., & Portsmore, M. (2005). Teaching partnerships: Early childhood and engineering students teaching math and science through robotics. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 14(1), 59–73.
Bers, M., Seddighin, S., & Sullivan, A. (2013). Ready for robotics: Bringing together the T and E of STEM in early childhood teacher education. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 21(3), 355–377.
Bloomfield, B. P., & Vurdubakis, T. (1997). The Revenge of the object? On artificial intelligence as a cultural enterprise. Social Analysis: The International Journal of Social and Cultural Practice, 41(1), 29–45.
Chandra, V. (2014). Developing students’ technological literacy through robotics activities. Literacy Learning: The Middle Years, 22(3), 24–29.
Chun-Wang, W., I-Chun, H., Ling, L., & Nian-Shing, C. (2011). A joyful classroom learning system with robot learning companion for children to learn mathematics multiplication. TOJET: The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 10(2), 11–23.
Coole, D., & Frost, S. (2010). New materialisms: Ontology, agency, and politics. Durham: Duke University Press.
Cordella, A., & Shaikh, M. (2003). Actor network theory and after: What’s new for IS resarch?. In European Conference on Information Systems 2003 Proceedings, 40.
Flannery, L. P., & Bers, M. U. (2013). Let’s dance the “robot hokey-pokey!” children’s programming approaches and achievement throughout early cognitive development. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 46(1), 81–101.
Graue, M. E., & Walsh, D. J. (1998). Studying children in context: Theories, methods, and ethics. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Hacking, I. (1999). The social construction of what? Cambridge Mass. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Kazakoff, E. R., Sullivan, A., & Bers, M. U. (2013). The effect of a classroom-based intensive robotics and programming workshop on sequencing ability in early childhood. Early Childhood Education Journal, 41, 245–255.
Knol, M. (2011). Constructivism and post-constructivism: The methodological implications of employing a post-constructivist research approach. In trial lecture as part of the fulfilments for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor, 25 March 2011. http://munin.uit.no/bitstream/handle/10037/4106/article.pdf. Accessed 8 May 2017.
Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor–network-theory. New York: Oxford University Press.
Levy, S. T., & Mioduser, D. (2008). Does it “want” or “was it programmed to…”? Kindergarten children’s explanations of an autonomous robot’s adaptive functioning. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 18, 337–359.
Lundberg, N. (2000). IT in health care–artifacts, infrastructures and work practices. Doctorial dissertation, Departments of Informatics, University of Gothenburg.
Papert, S. (1991). Situating constructionism. In I. E. Harel & S. Papert (Eds.), Constructionism (pp. 1–11). Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing.
Piaget, J. (1973). The psychology of intelligence. Totowa, NJ: Lifflefield, Adams and Cooperation.
Resnick, M. (1996). Distributed constructionism. In Proceedings of the 1996 international conference on Learning sciences. International Society of the Learning Sciences (pp. 280–284).
Salomon, G. (Ed.). (1994). Distributed cognition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Somyürek, S. (2015). An effective educational tool: Construction kits for fun and meaningful learning. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 25(1), 25–41.
Stager, G. (2001). Constructionism as a high-tech intervention strategy for at-risk learners. In Paper presented at the meeting of National Educational Computing Conference, Chicago, IL.
Strawhacker, A., & Bers, M. U. (2015). “I want my robot to look for food”: Comparing Kindergartner’s programming comprehension using tangible, graphic, and hybrid user interfaces. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 25(3), 293–319.
Tobin, J. (1999). Method and meaning in comparative classroom ethnography. In R. Alexander, P. Broadfoot, & D. Phillips (Eds.), Learning from comparing: New directions in comparative educational research (pp. 113–134). Oxford, UK: Symposium Books.
Tobin, J., Hsueh, Y., & Karasawa, M. (2009). Preschool in three cultures revisited: China, Japan, and the United States. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Voyles, M. M., Fossum, T., & Haller, S. (2008). Teachers respond functionally to student gender differences in a technology course. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 45(3), 322–345.
Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
About this article
Cite this article
Cho, E., Lee, K., Cherniak, S. et al. Heterogeneous Associations of Second-Graders’ Learning in Robotics Class. Tech Know Learn 22, 465–483 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10758-017-9322-3
- Robotics education
- Early childhood education
- Heterogeneous associations
- Embodied simulation