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Ayberk Özgür Doctoral Student Other, EPFL Funding: Matching funds +41 21 693 29 83

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Iterative Design and Evaluation of a Tangible Robot-Assisted Handwriting Activity for Special Education

Authors: Guneysu Ozgur, A.; Özgür, A.; Asselborn, T.; Johal, W.; Yadollahi, E.; Bruno, B.; Skweres, M.; Dillenbourg, P.


In this article we investigate the role of interactive haptic-enabled tangible robots in supporting the learning of cursive letter writing for children with attention and visuomotor coordination issues. We focus on the two principal aspects of handwriting that are linked to these issues: Visual perception and visuomotor coordination. These aspects, respectively, enhance two features of letter representation in the learner’s mind in particular, namely the shape (grapheme) and the dynamics (ductus) of the letter, which constitute the central learning goals in our activity. Building upon an initial design tested with 17 healthy children in a preliminary school, we iteratively ported the activity to an occupational therapy context in 2 different therapy centers, in the context of 3 different summer school camps involving a total of 12 children having writing difficulties. The various iterations allowed us to uncover insights about the design of robot-enhanced writing activities for special education, specifically highlighting the importance of ease of modification of the duration of an activity as well as of adaptable frequency, content, flow and game-play and of providing a range of evaluation test alternatives. Results show that the use of robot-assisted handwriting activities could have a positive impact on the learning of the representation of letters in the context of occupational therapy (V = 1, 449, p < 0.001, r = 0.42). Results also highlight how the design changes made across the iterations affected the outcomes of the handwriting sessions, such as the evaluation of the performances, monitoring of the performances, and the connectedness of the handwriting.


  • Published in: Frontiers in Robotics and AI (Volume: 7 Issue: 29, 2020)
  • DOI: 10.3389/frobt.2020.00029
  • Read paper

  • Date: 2020
Posted on: May 10, 2020

Thymio II, a robot that grows wiser with children

  • Authors: Riedo, Fanny; Chevalier, Morgane Solène Denise; Magnenat, Stéphane; Mondada, Francesco

Thymio II is a small robot developed for education. It aims at offering a wide public the possibility to understand the basics of robotics and programming. To achieve this, it aims at being appealing to a large age range and serve as a medium for several types of activities. In this study, we tested it in five different workshops of the EPFL Robotics Festival with various activities. The workshops target different age groups and the participants can control the robot via different means: built- in buttons, graphical programming and text programming. At the end of the activities, participants were asked to fill a short survey to give their impressions about the robot, their appreciation of the tasks and their motivations to take part. We could show through this feedback that ThymioII appeals to young children as much as to teenagers, to both girls and boys, and allows them to have fun and learn new things.

Posted on: April 14, 2014