Interactions with an Empathic Robot Tutor in Education: Students’ Perceptions Three Years Later

  • Sofia SerholtEmail author
Part of the Perspectives on Rethinking and Reforming Education book series (PRRE)


In 2015, and three years prior to the writing of this chapter, a three-month field study of a humanoid empathic robot tutor was conducted at a primary school in Sweden with children in grades 4–6. At that time, video analysis of the children’s interactions with the robot revealed that the children responded socially to the robot, but also that breakdowns often occurred during the interactions. Studies of robots in education are typically considered complete when the trial ends, which means that lasting or long-term implications of the child–robot relationship are seldom explored. The aim of this chapter is to explore children’s retrospective perceptions of the child–robot relationship in an educational setting. In a follow-up study at the school in question, the children responded to a survey and participated in discussion groups in which they were asked about their relationships with the robot, their recollections of breakdowns and how this has affected their normative perspectives of robots, as well as their views on robots in relation to the notion of inclusive education. A key finding in this study is that, when compared to their peers without robot experience, the students had become more critical towards the idea of emotion recognition in robots.


Child–Robot Interaction  Emotion recognition Robots Education Special needs Students’ perceptions 



I thank all students for participating in this study, as well as their teachers for making the study possible. I also thank my colleagues in the START project for helping me develop the questionnaire and discussion questions, and for assisting in transporting Pepper to the school. Thanks also to Dennis Küster for providing valuable feedback on statistical methods. This work was partially supported by the Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation and was funded in part by the project START (Student Tutor and Robot Tutee). The author is solely responsible for the content of this publication. It does not represent the opinion of the Wallenberg Foundation, and the Wallenberg Foundation is not responsible for any use that might be made of data appearing therein.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of GothenburgGothenburgSweden

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