Problem solving in a middle school robotics design classroom

Norton, Stephen J., McRobbie, Campbell J., & Ginns, Ian S. (2007) Problem solving in a middle school robotics design classroom. Research in Science Education, 37(3), pp. 261-277.

View at publisher


Little research has been conducted on how students work when they are required to plan, build and evaluate artefacts in technology rich learning environments such as those supported by tools including flow charts, Labview programming and Lego construction. In this study, activity theory was used as an analytic tool to examine the social construction of meaning. There was a focus on the effect of teachers’ goals and the rules they enacted upon student use of the flow chart planning tool, and the tools of the programming language Labview and Lego construction. It was found that the articulation of a teacher’s goals via rules and divisions of labour helped to form distinct communities of learning and influenced the development of different problem solving strategies. The use of the planning tool flow charting was associated with continuity of approach, integration of problem solutions including appreciation of the nexus between construction and programming, and greater educational transformation. Students who flow charted defined problems in a more holistic way and demonstrated more methodical, insightful and integrated approaches to their use of tools. The findings have implications for teaching in design dominated learning environments.

Impact and interest:

16 citations in Scopus
12 citations in Web of Science®
Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

ID Code: 28616
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Design Technology, Activity Theory, Teacher Beliefs, Robot Design, Student Learning
DOI: 10.1007/s11165-006-9025-6
ISSN: 0157-244X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC ENGINEERING (090600)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300) > Education Assessment and Evaluation (130303)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > Schools > School of Teacher Education & Leadership
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Deposited On: 16 Nov 2009 01:32
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2013 08:10

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page