A robot that helps children learn English by continuously making mistakes was created by Japanese scientists.
Shizuko Matsuzoe and Fumihide Tanaka at the University of Tsukuba, Japan, tried a test to determine how a robot teacher's different levels of competence affected children's success in learning English words for shapes, New Scientist reported.
AdvertisementThe scientists observed how 19 children, who were aged between 4 and 8 interacted with a humanoid Nao robot in a game of learning, where each kid had to make a shape corresponding to an English word like circle, square, crescent, or heart.
The robot that was operated by researchers, from a room next to the classroom, was made to look weak and feeble, and the children were encouraged to take the role of carers.
The robot would then either act as a guide, drawing the correct shape for the child, or make a mistake himself and act, as if it didn't know the answer.
When the robot drew a shape wrongly, the child can then teach it how to draw it correctly by guiding its hand.
In the end, the robot has either "learned" the word for that shape or continued to commit mistakes.
The researchers found that the children did best, when the robot appeared to make mistakes and learned from them. This also made the kids more likely to want to continue their learning with the robot.
The researchers will present their results at Ro-Man - an international symposium on robot and human interactive communication - in September.
"Anything that gets a person more actively engaged and motivated is going to be beneficial to the learning process," Andrea Thomaz, director of the Socially Intelligent Machines lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, said.
"So needing to teach the robot is a great way of doing that," she added.