Robot tutoring of multiplication: Over one-third learning gain for most, learning loss for some

Johan F. Hoorn, Ivy S. Huang, Elly A. Konijn, Lars van Buuren

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


In the design of educational robots, it appears to be undecided as to whether robots should show social behaviors and look human-like or whether such cues are insignificant for learning. We conducted an experiment with different designs of social robots built from the same materials, which is unique in robotics research. The robots rehearsed multiplication tables with primary school children in Hong Kong, which is a user group not easily or often accessed. The results show that affective bonding tendencies may occur but did not significantly contribute to the learning progress of these children, which was perhaps due to the short interaction period. Nonetheless, 5 min of robot tutoring improved their scores by about 30%, while performance dropped only for a few challenged children. We discuss topics, such as teaching language skills, which may be fostered by human likeness in appearance and behaviors; however, for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)-related subjects, the social aspects of robots hardly seem to matter.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2021


  • Experience design
  • Multiplication
  • Robot tutelage
  • Social robots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Control and Optimization
  • Artificial Intelligence


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