Identifying functions and behaviours of social robots for in-class learning activities: teachers’ perspective

Jessy Ceha, Edith Law, Dana Kulić, Pierre-Yves Oudeyer, Didier Roy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


With advances in artificial intelligence, research is increasingly exploring the potential functions that social robots can play in education. As teachers are a critical stakeholder in the use and application of educational technologies, we conducted a study to understand teachers’ perspectives on how a social robot could support a variety of learning activities in the classroom. Through interviews, robot puppeteering, and group brainstorming sessions with five elementary and middle school teachers from a local school in Canada, we take a socio-technical perspective to conceptualize possible robot functions and behaviours, and the effects they may have on the current way learning activities are designed, planned, and executed. Overall, the teachers responded positively to the idea of introducing a social robot as a technological tool for learning activities, envisioning differences in usage for teacher-robot and student-robot interactions. Further, Engeström’s Activity System Model—a framework for analyzing human needs, tasks, and outcomes—illustrated a number of tensions associated with learning activities in the classroom. We discuss the fine-grained robot functions and behaviours conceived by teachers, and how they address the current tensions—providing suggestions for improving the design of social robots for learning activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-761
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Social Robotics
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • Activity theory
  • Education
  • Social robots
  • Teachers

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