Non-sequential Learning in a Robotics Class: Insights from the Engagement of a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract

This case study focused on the robotics learning process of Mark (a pseudonym), a Latino-American second grader diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Drawing on Polanyi’s (Personal knowledge: towards a post-critical philosophy [Kindle version], 1958/2015) notion of “tacit knowing” and “dwelling in tools,” we attempted to understand Mark’s unique processes and ways of engaging in learning about a Light Sensor by pursuing two research questions: (a) How does Mark, with his unique behavioral and socio-emotional characteristics, engage in the robotics class? (b) What insights can we gain from his inquiry as we develop responsive robotics education? Findings revealed that Mark used a non-sequential inquiry process filled with repetitive free explorations and unexpected expanded inquiries about the Light Sensor. This non-sequential inquiry process highlighted that dwelling with robotic manipulatives was Mark’s distinct ways of exploring the Light Sensor. His non-sequential inquiry process emerged from his tacit engagement and expanded to his sophisticated and holistic understanding of the Light Sensor. We discuss implications for a robotics education program that is responsive to young children with diverse needs and characteristics.

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    All names of people in this manuscript are pseudonyms.

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Jung, S.E., Lee, K., Cherniak, S. et al. Non-sequential Learning in a Robotics Class: Insights from the Engagement of a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Tech Know Learn 25, 63–81 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10758-018-9394-8

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Keywords

  • Early childhood robotics education
  • STEM
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Non-sequential learning
  • Tacit engagement