PRE2018 4 Group4

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Student Student Number
Anne Aarts 1026630
Rick van Beek 1243355
Paul van Dijk 1278347
Bjarne Kraak 1262580
Pelle Schram 1252089


With the increasing diversity in modern society and the constantly increasing expectations of work, the amount of burnouts among educators has been higher than expected. Teachers suffer from emotional exhaustion with the increasing workload, which is a cause and consequence for the demand of more teachers in every level of schooling. In the Netherlands, one out of five teachers experiences symptoms of burnout (CBS, 2015). Also, a report of the NFER shows that in England job-related stress is higher among teachers than other professionals (NFER, 2019). Not only does this affect the teachers themselves: students are also negatively influenced by the presence of a burned-out teacher (Herman; Hickmon-Rosa; Reinke, 2017). A solution is yet to be found; several options are being research and considered. One of those options could be an implementation of robot technology.

In this project, we first identified user groups and a target audience we would focus on during the project. Secondly, we did research on burnouts and different factors causing stress leading to burnouts. Thereafter, six hypotheses are formulated concerning the implementation of a robot technology in an educational environment. Subsequently, a kindergarten teacher is interviewed to review the formulated hypotheses and conclude on the research done beforehand. One of these hypotheses is chosen to be further investigated, and finally, a test with a NAO robot simulation is conducted in a kindergarten class to draw a conclusion on the final hypothesis. The project is concluded with a discussion and a concept on continuation of the project.


Devision of work
The research is performed in a total of eight weeks. Those eight weeks are divided in two parts:

  1. a broad and explorative literature and practical study which we conclude with formulating a specific hypothesis, and
  2. a test where it's tried to find out whether the hypothesis formulated is true or false.

Week Datum start To Do & Milestones Responsible team members
1 29 April Part 1:Generate mutual understanding of the subject

1. Make plan of approach;
2. Perform exploratory literature study;
3. Seek contact with a owner of Nao robot;
4. Setup design of wikipedia;

Responsible members:

1. Everyone;
2. Everyone;
3. Anne;
4. Pelle.

2 6 May Part 1: Discuss task for the robot

1. Chose five scenarios based on performed literature study;
2. Work out five scenarios based on specific literature study;
3. Approach schools for interviewing nursery school teacher.

Responsible members:

1. Everyone;
2. Everyone;
3. Rick.

3 13 May Part 1:Prepare interview

1. Make interview questions
2. Choose three out of five scenarios best suited for application in nursery schools;
3. work out chosen scenarios even more: write down specific plan for every scenario.

Responsible members:

1. Paul & Bjarne;
2. Everyone;
3. Pelle, Rick & Anne.

4 20 May Part 1->2Chose specific scenario based on school visits'

1. Visit schools and interview kindergarten teachers;
2. Choose specific the task for the robot;
3. Formulate final hypothesis to test in coming weeks;
4. create a planning for the coming weeks. The planning of the last 4 weeks will be added below.

Responsible members:

1.Paul, Rick & Pelle;
2, 3 & 4. Everyone;

5 27 May Part 2: Prepare for test & become familair with programming Nao robot

1. Receive Nao robot;
2. let robot say a sentence;
3. let robot move arms;
4. Write test idea based on literature study on drawing exercise;
5. Perform literature on social emotional skills of toddlers;
6. Contact school teacher for test in nursery school.

Responsible members:

1. Everyone;
2&3: Pelle & Anne;
4. Rick, Paul & Bjarne;
5. Anne;
6. Rick.

6 3 June Part 2:Program thought out test

1. Implement whole test;
2. Determine success requirements based on literature study;
3. Contact kindergarten teacher about success requirements;
4. Prepare evalution.

Responsible members:

1. Pelle & Anne;
2. Rick, Paul & Bjarne;
3. Rick;
4. Bjarne.

7 10 June Part 2: Perform test at nursery school

1. Perform test at nursery school;
2. Determine if objective success requirements are met;
3. Determine if subjective success requirements are met in consultation with kindergarten teacher;
4. Perform evaluation with kindergarten teacher.

Responsible members:

1, 2, 3 &4. Everyone, at least three;

8 17 June Part 2: Evaluate test and look forward

1. Write conclusion to Q2;
2. Write conclusion to H6;
3. Write discussion;
4. Write suggested follow up studies.
5. Prepare presentations.

Responsible team members:

1&2. Bjarne;
3. Paul;
4. Rick;
5. Anne & Pelle.

Research questions

In this project, we are going to research for answers to the following two questions:

  1. In which way, robots can assist kindergarten teachers so that the workload of teachers is decreased and the level of education is kept the same or increased?
  2. How can a robotic technology take over kindergarten education from a human teacher without deteriorating the level of education?


We identified the next user groups:

  • Children: Children want to be entertained.
  • Teachers: Teachers would like to see their stress relieved.
  • Parents: In order to accept robots, parents would expect at least the same quality of education from robots as from teachers.
  • Government: The government would like to have a better quality of education, without increasing the money spent on education.
  • Enterprises: Enterprises would like to see new and profitable opportunities.

Target audience: The usergroup children formed the base while choosing our target. Our target is the kindergarten (4-6 years). Children are in one of their primary development stages, robots can have a major influence on them. all other user groups depend on the children's group. For example, the user group of teachers has been narrowed down to teachers of kindergarten education.

Factors of stress

The definition of teacher stress is most frequently quoted as the experience by teachers of negative or unpleasant emotions resuling from aspects of their work (Kyriacou, 1987). Some factors of stress are named below:

The most stressing factor for teachers has proven to be the numerous varying demands on their time, and the interruptions on planned time. The sense of control has is closely related to time demands, and time pressures interfere with all facets of teaching.

A second factor posed to be trying to maintain a child-responsive curriculum and dealing with other competing demands on the teachers’ time. The children’s needs involve a lot of tasks, for example taking care of sick children, individual levels on different areas (math, language) and managing behaviour. There is a high expectation for meeting the needs of the whole child.

A third factor is the rather informal environment of preschool. There are fewer gatekeepers to protect the teacher from unnecessary interruptions. There is no administrator or secretary present to sort out all the paperwork. The role of teacher is extended to material purchaser, secretary, cleaner, profile and report writer, etc. even though it is not always their expertise.

A fourth factor is the conflict between expectations about quality in an early childhood program and maintaining this in practice. The expectations are that teachers provide a stimulating learning environment, and be able to capitalize on children’s expressed interests. This can become difficult due to interruptions, and it is a hard goal to achieve in the first place.

A fifth factor comes with the personal needs of the teacher. To accomplish all tasks at hand, many teachers sacrifice personal needs. Finding a balance is difficult due to the high amount of demands and expectations.

A sixth factor presents itself in the difficulties with parents of the children. Since employment patterns of parents and structures of families are changing, it makes it difficult for parents to participate in their children’s schooling. Some teachers believe that parents use the preschool centre as a child care facility as they have no network for minding sick children or childcare fees are not affordable.

These are a few of the factors that cause stress for teachers. Ultimately, this stress can result in a burnout for the teacher. Burnout is the accumulation of responses to extended stressors caused by one’s job. The high amount of burnout cases among teachers is caused by several factors, such as:

  • Teacher turnover, The rate at which personnel whose primary function is classroom teaching leave or separate from the district, or change from their classroom teaching to another position from one school year to another" (Colorado Department of Education), which has not increased in spite of the growing demand for teachers.
  • Emotional exhaustion due to the high degree of emotional involvement of the job.
  • High workload due to demands and expectations.
  • Teacher self-efficacy (individual's belief in their innate ability to achieve goals).

Hypothesis 1-5

Based on existing literature, five hypothesis were formulated and elaborated on, as an possible answer to Q1. All scenarios are also hypothesis to Q2.

General requirements

  • Keep the toddlers busy with the robot for 15-20 minutes.
  • The robot should be meaningful for the toddlers, for example improving skills of creativity/ vocabulary/ drawing/ sound expressions and holding attention.
  • Should work from 9 in the morning until 12:30 without charging, charging should be done in one hour.
  • The robot must be accepted by majority of the parents.
  • The robot should resemble a human.
  • The robot should not break easily.

Emotion recognition

H1: A robot which tries to learn toddlers more about emotions has the potential of increasing the level of education at a nursery school.

Recognition of emotions is fundamental to healthy social relationships in life. From birth on people get in an constantly changing environment of emotional input from other humans, a process of recognition which is learned in the early stages of life. When children get into school, they get into contact with other children on an almost daily basis. They develop awareness of their own feelings and of emotion-eliciting events. When robots are introduced into early stages of school, they can have a major effect on the emotional development of children. With robots not (yet) being conscious or able to develop social contact in the way humans do, there could be a clash which introduces one of the most used arguments against robot deployment in schools. However, robots can be used to teach certain emotions, for example showing different facial expressions on a screen and let the children guess the emotion the robot is trying to imitate. The implementation of these robots has been researched and proved helpful with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) (Leo et al., 2016).

Emotion recognition could be done with the robot NAO. The NAO robot does not have facial expressions because its face is plain with moderate likeness to a real person. However, the emotions can still be portrayed using the combination of body language, sounds and colors from its LEDs on the eyes. Simple emotions as angry, happy and sad can be created. Still, there are limitations to the movement due to the degrees of freedom (Miskam et al., 2014).

Additional requirements

  • The robot is able to express human emotions with either body language or facial expressions, or both.
  • The robot look humanoid.
  • The robot is able to express 10 or more emotions.
  • The robot can give voice commands.
  • The robot is able to read human facial expressions.


H2: A robot which encourages toddlers to perform physical exercise has the potential of increasing the level of education at a nursery school.

To stay healthy, it is important to be active and move enough during the day. Unfortunately overweight is becoming more prevalent, also among preschoolers. In the Netherlands in 2009, 8-18% of children aged 2-5 years old was overweight or obese (Sijtsma, 2013). Overweight in early childhood also affects the likelihood of obesity in later childhood and adulthood (Cardon, De Craemer, De Bourdeaudhuij & Verloigne, 2014). Therefore, stimulating physical activity in preschoolers would be a good use of the robot.

This could be done by using a humanoid robot (like NAO) whose movements children can imitate. Besides helping the preschoolers stay healthy, physical exercises can also help their development. The robot could for example play an educational, physical game, like Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes or engage the children with dance. The latter has been done before with 5-year-olds with positive results. The children were eager to dance and imitate the robot, which contributes to their motor skills like balance (Crompton, Gregory, Burke, 2018).

An example of a physical exercise is as follows:

Teacher to robot: “Start body parts exercise”

Robot: “Hello! I am [name]. Do you want to play a game?”

Children: “Yes!”

Robot: “We are going to learn about the body and the face. Can everyone touch their head?”

> Robot brings both hands to its head

> Children imitate this

Robot: “Good job! Now touch your knees.”

>Robot brings hands to knees, children imitate this


The robot can teach the children the names of body parts and then play Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes with them.

Below are requirements and preferences for a robot that engages young children in physical exercise. The robot should be imitable and able to communicate with the children. It should keep the childrens’ attention. It would be good if the robot can monitor what the children are doing. It is very hard for robots to interpret visuals though, and the robot can also do without, so this is a preference rather than a requirement.

Additional requirements

  • The robot can give voice commands.
  • The robot has movable legs and arms.
  • The robot has at least three different exercise programs.


  • The robot can see whether the children are correctly executing the exercise.
  • The robot can understand basic commands.

Learning by Quizgame

H3: A robot which encourages toddlers to attend to a quizgame exercise has the potential of increasing the level of education at a nursery school.

Scenario: The teacher of a kindergarten class sees that one of her pupils has some troubles, maybe the student does not fit in the group, has trouble sharing or something else. The teacher decides to help the child and wants to speak to her in private, but the teacher knows that her other students need to be kept busy while she does that. So she sets up the robot to play a quiz game with the remaining children. This way the teacher can help solve the problem to the best extent while the other children are not affected.

The robot starts talking to the kids and begins with a little story that he lost some of his favorite objects and that he needs the students help with finding them. First he asks the children to find his blue ball next comes the red cube and after this comes the orange triangle. The children have to bring the objects to the robot and the robot scans if it’s the correct item. If it is the correct item the kid is thanked for his good job, but if it is the wrong item the robot still thanks the kid for his effort and explains why this is not the right object. After this the robot thanks the children and tells them he also lost his utensils and asks them if the kids can help him again.

Meanwhile the teacher is solving the problem of his student. Thanks to the robot he can focus on this uninterrupted and find a solution quickly. After 5-10 minutes the teacher has resolved the issue and lets the student join his peers. He lets the little game finish and continues his class.

Additional Requirements

  • Must have sensors to sense the objects brought to it.


At a young age children learn by playing and mimicking (Comer R., Gould E., Furnham A. 2013.), because of this a quiz where the children have to locate and bring an object which name is given is a good idea. For example the question “Can you bring me the red block?” is given. To reduce the stress and workload of the kindergarten teacher an anthropomorphized robot is the best option. (Han J. 2010)


H4: A robot which encourages toddlers to actively listen to a story has the potential of increasing the level of education at a nursery school.


The study shows that entertainment, sense-making and knowledge are closely related in storytelling activities for young children. Importantly, for the young listeners storytelling is closely linked to entertainment, enchantment and fun. The young children, including toddlers, attended to the teachers’ story performance by engaging in attentive listening, volunteering embodied affective stances, verbal repetitions, and pre-emptive moves (Cekaite, 2018). The NAO robot could be used to perform the storytelling and to entertain the toddlers (Fridin, 2014).


Nao as an embodied interactive storyteller, can assist the kindergarten educational staff by telling the children prerecorded stories. Nao told the prerecorded story, while expressing appropriate emotions both bodily and vocally. While telling the story, it taught the children new concepts. First it asked the children if they knew some of the terms related to the story. Nao gave positive feedback for any answer volunteered by the children, and then explained what the terms mean. It then asked the children what sounds are made by the animals in the story, and produced the animal sounds for them to hear. Furthermore images were shown on a screen to make the story more obvious. It also incorporated singing during the procedure and introduced motor games (such as imitating the robot’s movements like animals in the stories). During the procedure Nao constantly moved in front of the children, turned its head, and changed the color of the light in its eyes, simulating a human-like shift of attention to different children (Fridin, 2014).


Storytelling is essential for children’s development of language expression, logical thinking, imagination, and creativity (Wright,1995). It can be used to engage preschool children in constructive learning. Storytelling by a robot as described in the paper 'Storytelling by a kindergarten social assistive robot: A tool for constructive learning in preschool education' is called constructive learning (Fridin, 2014). It encourages learners to experience the content in different ways, using different senses. The robot is suitably programmed to provide this multisensory learning experience: it displays images on a screen, tells a story and discusses it with the children, and incorporates singing and motor activities in the process. An interactive robot served as a teacher assistant by telling prerecorded stories to small groups of children while incorporating song and motor activities in the process. The results show that the children enjoyed interacting with the robot and accepted its authority (Fridin, 2014).

Additional requirements

  • The robot should be able to talk with different voice volumes and tones
  • The robot should be able to perform some non-verbal communication, either by moving body parts or by showing emotions.


H5: A robot which encourages toddlers to touch the robot has the potential of increasing the level of education at a nursery school.

It has been proven that touch can be very important for the development of children. For example, more touch contributed to a faster growth of newborns (Rausch, 1981). Therefore, touching robots can also be beneficial for toddlers. A study suggested that touching and viewing the robots was just as effective in improving the relationship towards the robot (Vickers, Ohlsson, Lacy & Horsley, 2004). In the same paper, a test or game was made using the NAO robot. This game could be further elaborated on and used for toddlers as well. In this way, touch could be used to get the attention of toddlers.

Additional requirements

  • The robot should be able to detect touch and it's intensity.
  • The robot should be able to move it's bodyparts to touch the child.

Interview of kindergarten school teachers

After developing five scenarios which would possibly be able the lower the workload of kindergarten teachers while keeping the level of education at the same level or even increasing it, a specific one had to be chosen. For this reason the selection of scenarios is first narrowed down by ourselves to the best three options. Namely learning by exercise, quizgame and story telling. To choose a specific scenario out of the options, we asked an expert with a lot of practical experience - kindergarten school teacher Tieneke uit den Boogaard - about her findings on the topic. With help of her expertise a scenario was chosen to be worked out. When making the questions we made sure that the questions were not biased and wouldn’t give biased results (W. D. Crano, M. B. Brewer, A. Lac, 2015). We figured out that we should not ask leading questions and how to best formulate a question. The questions asked and answers given are elaborated on below.

Purpose: Find out which use of robot technology (Physical, Learning by quiz game, storytelling) is most useful for lowering the workload according to a kindergarten teacher and which requirements the technology has to match to make sure it's succesful.


  • What are the main tasks of a kindergarten teacher in a Montessori school?

During class time, the kindergarten teacher helps the children with their activities and the exercises they do. The teacher is responsible for the kids and they should therefore be closely monitored. Furthermore the kids should be raised and etiquettes need to be learned. Toddlers need lot of help and attention which is an important task of a kindergarten teacher. During class, materials and devices could break, small problems could occur, children could fall etcetera. These little pursuits are really time consuming. After class time, the teacher is busy with administrative task as the progress of the individual toddlers needs to be documented. In addition, teachers are often loaded with meetings within the school, but also with external people. The progress of the children should be discussed with the parents of the child and if necessary an expert could also be involved. At the end of the day it is the task of the nursey teacher to clean the room and prepare it for the next day.

  • Which tasks of a kindergarten teacher in a Montessori school could cause - in your opinion - a possible high workload? Many teachers experience stress from a high workload. Do you do to?

The high workload / stress is caused by the after school tasks which need to be performed. Due to spending cuts in the education, more and more task are transferred to the kindergarten teacher, which causes a higher workload, for example the teacher should now clean their own classroom. Due to the many tasks that must be executed, time has become scarce. The administrative tasks (paperwork) are the main cause of the high workload / stress.

  • Do you use some computer or robot technologies? If yes, which and on which basis?

Computer technology is definitely be used. There are several IPads available in the classroom with different educative apps installed. Furthermore there is a Digiboard and a computer. They also use a sort of robot technology, called a ‘bee bot’, this robot learns the toddler the first ‘programming’ steps.

We developed three scenarios for using robot technologies in a nursery classroom to occupy children and thus lower the workload:

  1. Physical exercise
  2. Learning by quiz game
  3. Storytelling
  • Which scenario, if any, would - in your opinion - decrease the workload the most/least and why?

None of the three scenario’s would be efficient for decreasing the workload for the kindergarten teachers, because the high workload is caused by tasks after school time.

  • Which scenario, if any, would - in your opinion - occupy the children the best/worst and why?

None of the three scenario’s would be needed for occupying the toddlers, because in a Montessori school the children mostly work on their own chosen activities and therefore don’t need to be occupied by robot technology. The robot technology could on the other hand be useful for improving the education level.

  • Can you think of another scenario using robot technologies which would - in your opinion - be more successful in lowering the workload and occupying the children then the previous scenarios?

Since the high workload/stress is caused by the administrative work after school time, the robot technology should not be used for lowering the workload and since it is a Montessori school, the toddlers work own their own individually, so don’t need to be occupied. On the other hand, the robot technology could be used for improving the educational level in a nursery school. For example, The robot could learn the toddlers: - how to fold paper - consecutive instructions (opeenvolgende instructies) - spatial awareness (ruimtelijk inzicht) - listening comprehension (begrijpend luisteren) - focused drawing (gericht tekenen)

  • What would - in your opinion - be the criteria for success for robot technology in a nursery classroom?

The most important aspects of criteria is that the robot technology should be educational and interesting. It should lift the education to a higher level.

  • Is the following criterion an important aspect for success?
    'Keeping the children occupied for at least 10 minutes straight'.

As the nursery school is a Montessori school, the toddlers are busy with their own chosen activities and work most of their time independently, which means that it is not needed to keep the children occupied for a specific time by using a robot technology.

  • Can we test this in practice in a few weeks? If so, when would this be possible (in the week of 10-14 June)?

It is definitely possible to test our robot technology solution in practice! We should make an appointment with Tieneke when to test it in practice.

Final Hypothesis (H6)

A new hypothesis was formulated with regard to the second research question.

H6: A robot technology, which reads out a drawing assignment, has a similar positive effect on the level of listening comprehension of preschool children as a human kindergarten teacher.


Hypothesis 6 rests on two assumptions:

  1. Practicing comprehensive listening skills will improve education
  2. A robot providing drawing instructions can fulfill this.

Comprehensive listening skills

The interviewed kindergarten teacher posited that listening skills of children are in decline. This is corroborated by, for instance, teachers Spooner & Woodcock (2010). They are "seeing increasing numbers of children who find it challenging to keep listening, stay focused on a task and follow even simple instructions in the classroom". They also cite multiple surveys proving concern for young children's listening skills. Laura Janusik, professor of communication, found that we spent 45% of our time listening in 1930 and only 24% in 2007.

User, Society, Enterprise


The most important user groups are the children, parents and teachers. These users all benefit from an improved level of education. There are several objections these groups could have against the introduction of a robot in a kindergarten class though. Several possible problems are identified: compromised privacy of children, a loss of human contact and safety. They will be discussed below.


Robots with sensors could store information on the children it interacts with. For example, a robot with ‘eyesight’ (cameras) could store images or video material of what it sees. If someone can access this material, the privacy of the children is compromised (Sharkey & Sharkey, 2010). Children might think they are alone with the robot, while in reality they could be monitored by a teacher. To prevent this, the robot should not store data on the children, and should not be used for surveillance.

Human contact

The presence of a robot in a kindergarten class might result in the children having reduced contact with their teacher. If a robot performs an interactive task with the children and it replaces the teacher in that task, the children will have missed out on human contact. This may be bad for the development of the children, as children learn a lot from imitating other people at this young age. The usage of a robot should therefore be limited. A teacher does not have contact with each child every minute of the day anyway, so limited time with the robot would not endanger human contact (Ruiz-del-Solar, 2010). More research needs to be done on where this limit should be, but for now 30 minutes per day seems an acceptable time.


Another question that could be raised is whether the safety of children can be guaranteed. Kindergarteners are still small, so they are at a bigger risk of being injured by a robot. Therefore, a robot in a kindergarten class should preferably not be too big and/or strong. If the robot is not physically capable of hurting small children, there is no concern for the robot doing so.


Society as a whole benefits from well educated citizens. Robots are also become more and more prevalent in society, so introducing children to them from a young age might also be a good addition to the curriculum. On the other hand, robots are costly. The bill of using robots in public education will be for the government, so financed by society.


Enterprises developing robots will obviously benefit as they can sell more robots if they are introduced in education.

Experiment Design

Research group

The research group consists of all pupils in the kindergarten of the Saltomontessorischool de Trinoom primary school in Eindhoven. This research group has been selected because of the age (between 4 and 6 years) and the level of education (kindergarten). Other variables such as gender and parents' income class have not been taken into account. The research group is arbitrarily subdivided into an equally large control and experimental group. The control group is indicated by group A, the experimental group is indicated by group B. By splitting the children in two groups, one test group and one control group, the influence of our drawing test on comprehensive listening can be examined.

Measuring instruments

To test the level of listening comprehension before and after the experiment, questions from CITO are used, intended for students of group 3 (Berkel, van et al., 2013). Those questions cover multiple topics concerning comprehensive listening. The questions are arbitrarily divided into two groups, question part 1 and question part 2. The questions are shown in Appendix B.


The following procedure has been drawn up:

  1. Groups A and B are questioned with question part 1 (Appendix B.1). The test is conducted in class. In this test, the responsible teacher describes a certain scenario. The students must then circle the image of the described scenario.
  2. Group A undergoes a drawing assignment of three sessions led by a robot.
  3. Group B undergoes a drawing assignment of three sessions under the guidance of a person.
  4. Group A and B are questioned with question part 2 (Appendix B.2). When conducting the test from part 2, the same procedure is used as described for part 1.

Drawing exercise setup


According to Claire E. Cameron in the early stages of childhood motor skills are related with learning. Gross motor skills are a critical part of children’s developing social competencies and physical well being. In contrast, fine motor skills are associated more robustly with academic achievement.

Because of this drawing is a good way for a child to spend some time. This way the child develops his/her fine motor skills while having fun. Drawing has other benefits as well since it is a complex system. The drawing system uses motor output, imagery, memory, meaning, perception and verbal abilities (A Toomela 2002). Toomela’s tests show that these components of the drawing system independently affect drawing development and that different components are crucial for the development in different phases of development.

When we combine the conclusions of these studies with what the kindergarten teacher told us about the decline of listening skills of children. We wanted to set up an exercise for the children where the robot tells them what to draw. This way they develop their listening skills while also developing their fine motor skills. With this we hope to reduce the problem of comprehensive listening skills in young children.

The drawing exercises created are shown in detail in Appendix C.

NAO Robot

NAO is the world’s leading and most widely used humanoid robot for education, healthcare, and research. NAO is 58 cm tall, autonomous, and a fully programmable robot that can walk, talk, listen to you, and recognise your face. NAO is made up of a unique combination of hardware and software, NAO consists of sensors, motors, and software driven by NAOqi, a dedicated operating system. This combination of technologies gives NAO the ability to detect its surroundings. Using the embedded software, NAO is then able to interpret what it has detected and activated programmed responses. Creating elaborate behaviors, accessing the data that is captured by the sensors, and controlling the robot are made possible by the movement libraries, available through graphics tools such as the Choregraphe programming software.

A Actuators in the NAO-robot.
Actuators in the NAO-robot.

The NAO robot has several actuators which in combination create 25 degrees of freedom for movement. These are included in the following parts:

  • Head
  • Right/left arm:
    • Shoulder
    • Elbow
    • Hand
  • Right/left leg:
    • Hip
    • Knee
    • Ankle

Furthermore, the available sensors are:

  • Two HD Cameras
  • Four Microphones
  • 10 tactile sensors
  • Sonar rangefinders

The main software that runs on the robot is called NAOqi. Creating behaviours for the robot means calling modules and methods advertized by NAOqi. There are several ways to program the robot, for example by using the program Choregraphe which uses drag and drop boxes to create behaviour. Other software development kits are C++, Python, .NET, Java, Matlab and Urbi.

The NAO robot is chosen according to the previoulsy stated requirments and preferences. Other factors include its friendly appearance, wide capabilities and availability.


During the pilot experiment, only the drawing exercise by the robot was performed. Reason for this was the small amount of time to perform both the robot and teacher the drawing exercise. Furthermore, the toddlers have to follow a sort of curriculum which makes it hard to ask a lot of time from them. It was also not possible to perform the drawing exercise guided by the teacher and robot on one day, due to the short concentration curve of toddlers.


Some results of the drawing exercise (the drawings) are shown below.

A Example of a drawing made by on of the children
Example of a drawing made by on of the children.


During the pilot experiment, only the drawing exercise by the robot was performed. Thus, hypothesis 6 (H6) cannot be confirmed or invalidated. To do so, further investigation is required. Advice for conducting the experiment is given in the chapter continuation.


During the execution of the pilot experiment, a number of things were noticed that could be improved. These points are discussed globally in this chapter. Those points will be worked out in more detail in the next chapter, the advice for further research.

1. Focus group

The group that served as the research group were the pupils of the nursery school of primary school 'de Trinoom', in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The following comments can be made about this group.

1.1. Participation

Contrary to expectations, the class was asked who wanted to participate and it was not organized centrally. On one hand, this led to enthusiasm among the participants, but also to a smaller research group. The first day 8 participants took part, the second day 15. This included a small overlap. Better coordination with the responsible teacher could prevent this in the future.

1.2. School type

Primary school 'de Trinoom' is, as indicated earlier, not a regular primary school, but a Montessori primary school. The research group may therefore not be a representative reflection. However, no significant difference between the skills of students at a Montessori school or a traditional school was measurable (Manner, 2007, p.8). The influence on the results therefor is probably very small.

1.3. Other variables

To make the influence of a robot or human on the student's learning process visible, all other variables must be excluded. For example, the variables gender and educational level of parents were not taken into account. In further research, this should be the case.

2. Test on comprehensive listening

2.1. Level of test

According to the responsible teacher, the prepared level test turned out to be too difficult, not suitable for students between 4 and 6 years old. According to the responsible teacher, the questions were more suitable for group 6. This does not correspond to the literature: the questions originated in "Wetenschappelijke verantwoording Begrijpend luisteren groep 3"(Berkel, van et al., 2013), which showed that the questions were made for group 3. Children that take place in group 3 have indeed an age of slightly higher than 6 years.

2.2. Test method

By taking the test in class, the children can possibly look at each other and thus influence each other. To get more reliable results, it is important to take the test separately for each child. A disadvantage of this is that this method of testing is much more time-consuming.

3. Drawing exercises

3.1. Use of robot simulation

The hypothesis (H6) speaks of the use of a robot technology. It can be discussed whether a robot simulation is included in the term robot technology. A simulation of the NaO robot was used in the pilot experiment. Research (Powers, Kiesler, Fussell, & Torrey, 2007) shows that robots have more social impact on people than a computer agent, and that they are better able to retain the attention of the participants. The fact that a difference is noticeable shows in our opinion that the use of a simulation is not comparable to the use of a real physical robot.

3.2. Research period

Only on two consecutive days the pilot experiment was performed. An observation worth mentioning is that there were more volunteers on the second day than on the first. We expect that this is due to habituation, we think that the children were more familiar with the researchers and the research, and therefore less reluctant. Furthermore, to show significant difference between the experiment and control group, the experiment should be performed over a long time.

3.3. Possibilities for feedback

Because the drawings were made on paper, there was no possibility for the robot to give feedback on the drawings. A human teacher of course has this capability. To compete with a human teacher, it could be necessary to perform this task.


There are several options for improving this project. This chapter will work out the points stated in the discussion. The same structure is used as in the discussion.

1. Research group


To calculate the size of a sample group, a formula should be used (Krejcie & Morgan, 1970, p.1).

The total population of our target group, children between 4-6 years old, is about 540.000.(“CBS Statline”, 2018).

With a reliability level of 95% and a margin of error of 5%, it is to be found that at least 385 participants are needed.


It is important to perform the experiment across the whole country, so all regions are taken into account which gives the best impression of education in kindergarten in the Netherlands. Furthermore it would be recommended to test on different schooltypes, for example daltonschools, montessorischools, religious or philosophical schools or public schools. The more different kindergarten types the better

2. Test on comprehensive listening

Other tests than the one CITO test in appendix B can be used as well to test the level of comprehensive listening. In The Clinical Assessment of Language Comprehension (1995), Miller en Paul work out multiple other tests for different ages groups. Two suitable tests for comprehensive listening for the target group are listed below.

Word Order Comprehension This test is suitable for children between 2,5 and 5 years. One advantage of this test is that it's determined whether the test is not too hard for the children, before the testing starts (Miller & Paul, p.50). This works as following. Before the testing, different pictures are shown to the child. When one object is named, the child has to point to the corresponding picture. This way, the vocabulary of the child is tested. Only if the child responds in the right way too all questions, you continue with testing. During the testing multiple sentences are read out to the child, using only the vocabulary that was just tested. The child again has to respond by pointing to the right picture. For example, when reading out "Daddy's kissing" (Miller & Paul, p.68) the right options has to be chosen out of four related pictures. In addition to a picture where daddy is kissing mommy, there is for example also an option where mommy is kissing daddy. This way, the word order comprehension is tested.

Making inferences in discourse This test is suitable for children between 3 and 7. Other than testing word order comprehension, this test focuses on understanding implicit relationships . To test the understanding of those matters, first, a simple story is told. Afterwards, some questions are being asked (Miller & Paul, p.121).

For example, the next story can be told:

"The treasure was in the chest.

The chest was buried under a great oak tree." (p.121)

Afterwards, the next questions should be asked to test the level of comprehensive listening:

"Was the treasure buried? Where?" (p.121)

3. Drawing exercises

First of all, the tests can be conducted with a real NAO robot instead of the simulation used in this case

Feedback on results

Secondly, by designing an app which communicates with the NAO robot, in order to be able to check the exercises the children perform. The app would have the same exercises as the ones that are performed on paper. The concept of the app would consist several exercises on comprehensive listening, in which the robot tells the exercises and the child has to perform the drawing.

A Example of an exercise
An example of an exercise in the app.

As the robot cannot (yet) recognize drawn objects on paper, the app will have different moveable blocks on a set template, in which the child has to move these objects to the right positions according to the instructions from the robot. These block contain the objects described by the robot (i.e. house, tree), so the child only has to move the blocks to the right, told position. To include creativity in these exercises, an option could be to let the child draw the objects in the different blocks beforehand, in which each block has a description of what object has to be in it. This way, the robot can check the exercise without having to recognize the certain object by itself, as it is predefined by the given description. An example can be seen in the right figure. This is an example of an exercise, in which the robot speaks the sentence:

  • "The tree is to the right of the house. To the left of the house stands a car, with a person on top of it."

The blocks can then be moved into the right pattern with help of several predefined placement blocks (grey boxes). The app will check the pattern, and will indicate whether the pattern is right or not. The robot will then continue to say that the child has it right or that he should try again. This figure resembles the general idea of what the app would contain with regard to exercises. In this example, the child is expected to draw the certain objects in the black boxes with according to the descriptions. This is where the creativity would come in. It can also be done with several general images of simple recognisable objects, however this would leave the idea of creativity.


Appendix A. Orientational Literature Study

To earn some insights on the topic of robots in childcare, a broad literature study has been performed. The problem statement as formulated in the introduction is based on the literature found. A small summary of every article is provided. The scientific articles found are divided in the next topics for easy classification:

  • Teachers and burnouts
  • Roles
  • Acceptance
  • Ethics
  • Technology

Teachers and burnouts
The next articles are classified under the topic 'Teachers and burnouts':

  • Teacher Labour Market in England (Worth & Van den Brande, 2019)

Summary: A report of the NFER shows that job-related stress is higher among teachers than other professionals.

  • CBS en TNO: Een op de zeven werknemers heeft burn-outklachten (CBS, 2015)

Summary: More than 14 percent of employees in the Netherlands has had a burnout in 2014 (1:7). Among education is the highest percentage of burnouts: one out of five has to deal with it.

  • Comparative Study of Teachers in Regular Schools and Teachers in Specialized Schools in France, Working with Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder: Stress, Social Support, Coping Strategies and Burnout (Boujut, Dean, Grouselle & Cappe, 2016)

Summary: Study comparing teachers of regular schools and specialized schools with regard to, among others, stress and burnout. Specialized teachers are less emotionally exhausted, as they have adjustment due to their training, experience, and tailored classroom conditions.

  • Social Support and Teacher Burnout (Sarros & Sarros, 1992)

Summary: The interest in teacher stress and burnout in Australia has been increasing steadily over the last five to ten years. In comparison to the ongoing stress research, the role of social support in helping educators cope with the stress of teaching has received methodical but limited attention. Although the research base on educator burnout and social support is expanding, there remains nonetheless the need for a more complete understanding of these phenomena.

  • Empirically Derived Profiles of Teacher Stress, Burnout, Self-Efficacy, and Coping and Associated Student Outcomes (Herman, Hickmon-Rosa & Reinke, 2018).

Summary: Understanding how teacher stress, burnout, coping, and self-efficacy are interrelated can inform preventive and intervention efforts to support teachers. This study researched this in relation to student outcomes, including disruptive behaviors and academic achievement. Teachers in the high stress, high burnout, and low coping class were associated with the poorest student outcomes. Implications for supporting teachers to maximize student outcomes are discussed.

  • Lessons from teachers on performing HRI studies with young children in schools (Westlund et al., 2016)

Summary: an autonomous social robotic learning companion was deployed in three preschool classrooms at an American public school for two months. Before and after this deployment, the teachers and teaching assistants who worked in the classrooms are asked about their views on the use of social robots in preschool education. These teachers generally expected the robot to be disruptive, but found that it was not, and furthermore, had numerous positive ideas about the robot's potential as a new educational tool for their classrooms.

The next articles are classified under the topic roles:

  • The scenario and design process of childcare robot, PaPeRo. (Osada, Ohnaka & Sato, 2006)

Summary: Eight applications for the use of robots in childcare were looked into, concerning the development of personal robots: conversation, face recognition, touch, roll-call, quiz-master, phoning, greetings and story teller. After testing in the field, the most important conclusion was that giving a robot a personality made it more interesting for toddlers.

  • Socialization between toddlers and robots at an early childhood education center. (Tanaka, Cicourel & Movellan, 2007)

Summary: This paper tried to find out whether real bonding between robots and toddlers was possible, as it was not really shown in the past. By immersing a SotA robot in in a nursery school, it was found that contact between the toddlers and the robot improved over time and they begun to more and more treat it as a human being. In this research, the robot was not operating autonomous but it is concluded that the technology available should be able to autonomous bond and socialize with human toddlers for a significant period of time.

  • A Review on the Use of Robots in Education and Young Children. (Toh, Causo, Tzuo, Chen & Yeo, 2016).

Summary: The robot's influence on children's skills development could be grouped into four major categories: cognitive, conceptual, language and social skills.

  • Should we welcome robot teachers? (Sharkey, 2016)

Summary: This article investigates robots in classrooms in four different scenario’s: a robot teacher, a robot companion/peer, a care-elicting robot and a telepresence robot. Multiple ethical issues are identified: the privacy of students, the loss of human contact, the deception of students and the question of accountability. The writer concludes that human teachers should not be replaced by robot teachers, and robots’ primary use in classrooms should be for tasks that a human teacher can’t do. In tasks the teacher normally does, the human will outperform the robot.

  • Kindergarten assistive robotics (KAR) as a tool for spatial cognition development in pre-school education. (Keren, Ben-David & Fridin, 2012)

Summary: Kindergarten Assistive Robotics (KAR) is an innovative tool that promotes children’s development through social interaction. This study describes how KAR assists kindergarten educational staff in the teaching geometrical thinking, one of the aspects of spatial cognition by engaging the children in play-like interaction. One of the purposes of the KAR system is to promote children’s motor development. KAR can also promote children’s cognitive development in preschool education, for example by storytelling. In the present study we describe the use of KAR to promote children’s geometrical thinking, one of the aspects of spatial cognition.

  • Storytelling by a kindergarten social assistive robot: A tool for constructive learning in preschool education. (Fridin, 2014)

Summary: Kindergarten Social Assistive Robotics (KindSAR) is a novel technology that offers kindergarten staff an innovative tool for achieving educational aims through social interaction. This robot served as a teacher assistant by telling prerecorded stories to small groups of children while incorporating song and motor activities in the process. Storytelling is essential for children’s development of language expression, logical thinking, imagination, and creativity. The primary purpose of KindSAR is to provide assistance to the staff by engaging the children in educational games. The technology potentially provides a valuable contribution to the existing repertoire of tools for children’s cognitive and social development. KindSAR provides children and the educational staff with detailed feedback on the game/task performance and concurrently monitors children’s progress over time. Visual, audio, and task performance data can then be used both by kindergarten teams and for further study by researchers studying cognitive development. Second, productive though it may be for educational (and research) purposes, child–teacher interaction is often limited in view of the large number of children (35) in Israeli kindergarten classes and the small number of teachers (usually 2) per class.

  • Kindergarten Social Assistive Robot (KindSAR) for children’s geometric thinking and metacognitive development in preschool education: A pilot study. (Keren & Fridin, 2014)

Summary: Kindergarten Social Assistive Robot (KindSAR) is an innovative tool promotes children’s development through social interaction. This pilot study demonstrates how KindSAR can assist educational staff in the teaching of geometric thinking and in promoting the metacognitive development by engaging children in interactive play activities. KindSAR is a pre-school educational application of a class of robots known as Social Assistive Robotics (SAR) that geometric thinking can be developed in preschoolers.

  • Exploring the educational potential of robotics in schools: A systematic review (Benitti, 2012)

Summary: This article contains a systematic review of literature on performance of (mostly) educational robots in classrooms. It concludes that robots often have a positive impact on students’ learning of new concepts, especially in the STEM area. It also notes that the research on educational robot effectiveness is still quite limited.

Summary: A pilot study which talks about the interaction between a humanoid robot and autistic children. This study shall lead to adaption of new procedures in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In this pilot study they say that the consistency and patience of a robot might be beneficial for the education of children with ASD

  • Storytelling robot helps children learn language. (Lu, 2019)

Summary: The article is about a robot called Tega. It is cute, fluffy and appears to boost language skills in young children. Tega read picture books to 67 children aged from 4 to 6 years in weekly one-on-one meetings lasting an hour. During the sessions, it asked questions to gauge the listener’s opinion and comprehension, quizzing them on a word’s meaning or getting them to draw conclusions about a character. All the children who played with Tega the robot ended up with improved vocabularies.

The next articles are classified under the topic acceptance:

  • Social acceptance of a childcare support robot system. (Shiomi & Hagita, 2015)

Summary: This journal article looks into the social acceptance of robot technologies in childcare in comparison to two present childcare technologies, like baby food. Therefore, a web-based survey as well as a field test was performed. Confirming their hypothesis, the social acceptance of childcare robot system was less than of the known childcare support technologies. However, when tested in the field, the social acceptance was higher than following the web-based survey. To investigate acceptance, three points of view were used: safety and trustworthy, diligence, and decreasing workload. For designing a childcare support system, they interviewed teachers at nursery schools. They found out that there were two options where a robot could help: 1. robot system that helps with paperwork; and 2. robot system that entertains children.

  • Breakdowns in children's interactions with a robotic tutor: A longitudinal study. (Serholt, 2018)

Summary: There are some problems faced in reality with a robotic tutor four of them stood out these were (1) the robot's inability to evoke initial engagement and identify misunderstandings, (2) confusing scaffolding, (3) lack of consistency and fairness, and finally, (4) controller problems.

  • Toward a unified theory of consumer acceptance technology. (Kulviwat, Bruner, Kumar, Nasco & Clark, 2007)

Summary: Findings suggest that substantial improvement in the prediction of technology adoption decisions is possible by use of the CAT model with its integration of affect and cognition.

The next articles are classified under the topic ethics:

  • Additional elements on the use of robots for childcare. (Ruiz-del-Solar, 2010)

Summary: In other articles, issues like privacy, deception and psychological damage are raised concerning robots for childcare. This article contributes to that discussion. Following this article, four things should be looked in to: 1. Regulate robot usages such at with toys or some sport installations. Including informative messages could help. 2. Change the analysis based on the age of the group. Beneath 5 years, it is shown that using robots can be harmful, above, it isn't. 3. Use data stored by robots in ethical way and destroy it in the cases where the parents don't are the owner. Storing (and destroying) the data should be law enforced. 4. Receiving no care, which happens when children are left alone, is way worse than receiving robot care. Robots could be a solution to the problems that arise from being home alone often.

  • Dry your eyes: Examining the roles of robots for childcare applications. (Feil-Seifer & Matarić, 2010)

Summary: Sharkey & Sharkey (2010) rose ethical questions about using robots for childcare. The argument for this was that the use of robots could lead to social neglect of the child. For this scenario to happen, the parents and children should be convinced that the robot is more capable than it actually is. It is shown that even children see the limitations of robots in an early stage. Thus, robots may facilitate some issues, they are not specific to robots as humans are very well capable of detecting the flaws. Detecting them not is just bad parenting. The argument is based on the assumption that robots will replace human interaction. However, it is shown that robot technologies can also improve human-human interaction by supplementing it.

  • Robot Lies in Health Care: When Is Deception Morally Permissible? (Matthias, 2015)

Summary: This article deals with the ethical problem of social robots being deceptive towards humans. It concludes with four requirements that would make deception morally permissible.


  • Autonomous spherical mobile robot for child-development studies. (Michaud et al., 2005)

Summary: This article concerns the design of a robot aimed at children aged 12-24 months. It gives insight into factors that are important when designing a robot for young children: for example it should be robust and easy to understand. Another factor is showing intentionality. Children will be more engaged with objects when the objects seem to have a will, e.g. they can move independently.

  • Child’s Perception of Robot’s Emotions: Effects of Platform, Context and Experience (Cohen, Looije & Neerincx, 2014)

Summary: Two robots are compared: the NAO which cannot change its facial features but has a movable body and the iCat, which can change its facial features but does not have a body. The conclusion is that children correctly recognized emotions in both robots at a high rate. Therefore facial features are not required for robots to express emotions.

Appendix B: Tests for comprehensive listening

All 12 exercises can be found here. This file is part of Wetenschappelijke verantwoording Begrijpend luisteren groep 3 (Berkel, van et al., 2013, p.50-55). The first 6 questions are grouped in questions part 1. The last 6 questions are grouped in questions part 2.

Appendix C: Drawing exercises


Introduction dag 1:

Hoi kinderen, mijn naam is NAO en ik heb begrepen dat jullie leuke kinderen zijn. Kunnen jullie dit laten horen? Wie heeft er zin om te tekenen met mij? Super! Jullie zijn echt leuke kinderen! We gaan zo een tekening maken en ik zeg wat jullie moeten tekenen. Goed luisteren dus! Hebben jullie er zin in?

Drawing exercise dag 1:

Dan gaan we beginnen! Teken op je blaadje een huisje. Het is een hele mooie dag vandaag. Wat schijnt er bij een mooie dag? Heel goed, de zon. Teken nu de zon aan de bovenkant van het papier. Weten jullie hoe een boom eruit ziet? Mooi zo, teken een boom naast het huisje. Super! Goed gedaan. Als je naar de lucht kijkt, wat zie je dan allemaal? Juist, wolken. Teken als laatst een wolk naast de zon. Goed bezig kinderen! We zijn klaar voor vandaag. Vonden jullie het leuk? Ik vond het ook leuk met jullie. Tot de volgende keer!


Introduction dag 2:

Hey kinderen! Daar ben ik weer. Kennen jullie me nog? Ik ken jullie ook nog! We gaan zo weer een leuke tekening maken. Doen jullie allemaal weer mee?

Drawing exercise dag 2:

Dan gaan we beginnen! Teken een robot in het midden van het papier. Goedzo. Teken nu boven de robot een wolk. Goed bezig allemaal! Teken nu een zon naast de wolk. Teken vervolgens een bloem naast de robot. Teken als laatste een poppetje onder de zon. Echt knap van jullie! Dit was goed te doen toch? Mooizo, dan gaan we het nu iets moeilijker maken. Zijn jullie er weer klaar voor? Teken in het midden van het papier een bloem. Teken nu een blije zon. Goed bezig. Teken een robot naast de bloem. Super! Goed gedaan. Teken een poppetje op het blaadje. Teken als laatste een wolk naast de zon en boven de bloem. Goed bezig kinderen! We zijn klaar voor vandaag. Vonden jullie het leuk? Ik vond het ook leuk met jullie.


Ik hoop dat jullie het leuk vonden om met mij te tekenen en plezier te maken. Vonden jullie het ook leuk? Mooizo! Helaas was dit de laatste keer dat ik bij jullie langs kom. Vinden jullie het ook jammer dat ik weg ga? Applaus voor jezelf. Allemaal veel plezier en succes!


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