NAO Robot as Scrum Master: Results from a scenario-based study on building rapport with a humanoid robot in hybrid higher education settings

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Ilona BuchemNiklas Baecker

Abstract: Educational robots have been used as an effective intervention mainly in STEM education. A wide range of educational robots, including programmable toys and DIY electronics, have been used to support computational, engineering and problem solving skills, mainly of school children. However, the application of humanoid robots to support learning, especially in higher education, is still at its initial stage. Recent studies provide promising evidence about the potential of humanoid robots for motivation and learning outcomes in higher education. Humanoid, educational robots, such as the NAO robot, provide a multimodal interface which uses touch, speech, gestures and eye gaze for interaction, which is similar to human interaction in the physical world. Rapport is one of the key factors for a successful interaction with humanoid robots and a modulating factor for learning (Westlund & Breazeal, 2019). Rapport has been defined as a dynamic structure of mutual attentiveness, positivity, and coordination (Tickle-Degnen & Rosenthal, 1990). Rapport with humanoid robots can be established through verbal and nonverbal behaviour including dialogues, gestures and movements (Omokawa et al., 2019; Brown & Howard, 2014).In this paper we describe a scenario-based application of the NAO robot and the results from an online survey with 47 students (58% male, 42% female) who participated in two consecutive exploratory studies in hybrid learning settings (66% participated online, 34% F2F). The primary goal of our research was to evaluate to what extent students established rapport with NAO and to explore whether the quality of the rapport differed depending on the mode of participation (on the campus vs. online). The study was conducted with students in the Agile Project Management course in their third semester of Digital Business (B. Sc.). The robot-led scenario was designed as Daily Scrum, which is a 15-minute meeting held by teams using the Scrum framework. NAO was programmed using Choregraphe and Python to facilitate the Daily Scrum as the Scrum Master, whose task was to help students learn how to keep a daily scrum.Building rapport with NAO was assessed using the rapport scale by Gratch, et al. (2007), which was already applied in studies with robotic embodied agents. This scale builds on research revealing the potential of embodied agents to establish rapport and familiarity with humans through verbal and nonverbal behaviour. Additionally, students’ perceptions of the robot were measured using the Human-Robot Interaction Evaluation Scale (HRIES), which is used to evaluate how humans attribute human characteristics to robots (Spatola, et al., 2021). The results of the study indicate that students perceived NAO as a humanlike, anthropomorphic agent and that this perception positively affected student-robot rapport. Additionally, the paper explores the relationships between the rapport scores and the perception of students of key features of the robot including appearance, voice quality, pauses in speaking, pace of speaking, facial expression, movements of the body, head and hand, light effects and tactile interaction. Based on the findings, we discuss both our research contributions and practical implications for programming of humanoid, educational robots to enhance student-robot rapport as part of HRI.

Keywords: educational robots, humanoid robots, human robot interaction, technology-enhanced learning, rapport, embodied agents

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1002385

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