The entry into the second decade of the 21st century is clearly defined by the widespread use of technological devices for a variety of activities [1
]. This generalization of technology has flooded spaces, such as training, causing the need to adapt from an analogical era to a digital one, where technological tools allow us to cover the basic needs of citizens [2
Focusing our attention in the educational field, information and communication technologies (ICT) have generated a deep revolution due to the constant technological advances and their implications in the teaching–learning processes [4
]. In this sense, the incorporation of technologies per se into these processes does not imply educational improvements. There is evidence [5
] that possible improvements in learning are determined by how these technologies are applied and their ability to achieve significant learning in a natural and dynamic way. Now more than ever, the importance of the pedagogical approach to the application of ICT in schools cannot be overlooked. From this perspective, an innovative paradigm can be aimed at teaching traditional content through a novel methodological approach that focuses on the search for new content to teach, integrating and combining innovative activities that promote and impact on the empowerment of students, with the intention of adopting a much more collaborative, active, and creative [6
]. Specifically, recent applications of this new perspective show great impact on how this integrative model of ICT in education can offer many advantages, particularly related to body and musical expression. On the one hand, research shows it attracts the attention of students by connecting with their interests and motivations. On the other hand, it really helps them to integrate knowledge, mimic, kinaesthetic learning in a collaborative and participate way [7
]. In this sense, the multimodal vision defined by [9
] as using ‘different modes to represent scientific reasoning and findings’ opens up the possibility of presenting the same concept in different ways (descriptive, figurative, experimental, kinaesthetic, and mathematical) with a diversity of interactive technologies. In this way, multimodal representations are used to scaffold the construction of understanding, scientific explanations, and reasoning [10
], allowing for greater meaning in learning.
From the institutional perspective, teacher training is a fundamental pillar for the inclusion of ICT in schools to be truly successful and generate significant learning. This vision implies a radical change in teaching practice [11
], making teachers the guides of the teaching–learning process [13
] and developing a series of technopedagogical skills to be able to use ICT in the classroom [14
]. This change requires the support of educational administrations to apply policies that promote the inclusion of ICT in training spaces [17
] and allow for a response to the prevailing digital culture. The final aim is for students to be able to integrate and correlate their learning with today’s digital world and the new, interconnected world in which they live.
Roughly speaking, the incorporation of ICT in education must follow an interdisciplinary and transversal process that promotes its use as an efficient pedagogical and methodological resource, thus constituting a challenge for the educational system. Students and teachers must be committed to interact with the social and cultural environment in which they work, adopting a new educational approach [18
] that allows them to learn to learn, create thinkers, encourage cooperative and collaborative work, and solve problems by developing their capacity for expression and communication [19
]. In this sense, among the different technological innovations that can be used in teaching, one that has taken a great leap forward is robotics [20
According to several studies [22
], robotics has been acquiring more and more importance in educational spaces. Its use is most significantly focused on the secondary education stage. Among the benefits of using robotics as a pedagogical resource [25
], we may indicate the improvement of autonomy, creativity, attention, and social relations in students. In addition, it generates more motivating learning contexts, so that students can look for solutions and alternatives to the different questions or doubts they may have in class in a self-regulated manner.
From a pedagogical point of view, robotics develops in students the computational thinking that allows them to enhance higher order cognitive processing through abstraction, the use of logical processes, and the application of algorithms [27
], providing them with skills in the information and knowledge society. In addition, the use of robotics in teaching involves promoting the power of imagination in students. This allows them to respond to problems that arise with the resources available to them [28
]. In addition, it increases their artistic capabilities for robotic design, their manipulative skills for the construction of the robot itself, and cognitive work. This promotes the development of programming [29
]. In this way, robotics provides another mode of interaction in the learning of content by students within the multimodal perspective and the use of technological resources for teaching [30
The virtues of the qualities developed by the inclusion of robotics in student learning processes force teachers to take on new roles in teaching, acting as guides for all instructional actions. These changes have also come from the student, who now develops an active role and promotes his or her own learning [31
]. These transformations have promoted significant improvements in several aspects related to students, such as motivation [33
]; teamwork; commitment to homework; interactions between teachers and speakers, as well as the didactic contents [34
]; active and protagonist participation of students [35
]; autonomy as a manager and builder of their wisdom [36
] and in the positive attitude of students [37
] as outstanding academic indicators in the scientific literature. All this has a direct and positive impact on the performance of the conditions shown by students in their daily lives [37
]. As a clear consequence of all this, there is an improvement in the scores on assessment tests and in the achievement of objectives and competencies by students [39
]. Due to the potential offered by robotics in the teaching and learning process, each one has been considered as study dimensions. From now on, these are developed in greater depth for a better understanding and structuring of the study (Section 2.3
The review of scientific works on the implementation of robotics in teaching explains that its use, compared to traditional training methodologies of an expository nature without the use of digital resources, becomes an effective approach to teaching and learning in different subjects and educational levels [22
In the specific case of experiments carried out on robotics in the area of physical education at the compulsory secondary education stage, the studies raise the possibility of integrating robotics into this subject through the use of robotic resources with which students interact with robots [41
]. In physical education, the use of these robots helps students improve the acquisition of knowledge, increase motivation, and improve attention span, participation, the school climate, and digital competence in students [8
]. Furthermore, the scientific literature reflects that the use of robotics in subjects, such as physical education, allows the development of attention, interaction, motivation, and the attraction of students for the learning process [42
Among the devices, at the robotics level, that can be used in the teaching and learning processes is the so-called Makey Makey. This technological resource was developed by Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum from the Massachusetts Technology Laboratory in the United States [43
]. The Makey Makey device has an appearance similar to that of a traditional video game console. It is connected to a computer and is conceived as additional hardware, which allows the transfer of data and orders. Thanks to the Makey Makey, users have the opportunity to achieve new interactions with the machine. All this with the purpose of promoting diverse capacities in people, such as creative thinking, imagination, and the ability to design new interactive projects through robotics [44
Primarily, this technological resource is made up of several components (Figure 1
). On the one hand, at the top, there is a USB port for easy connection to the computer. The front part has the necessary means to be able to control the device interactively. On the back, there is the motherboard next to the processor based on the Arduino programming language. On the other hand, there is the wiring and control clips, which are connected in various slots, both on the front and on the back [45
]. In order to interact with other everyday objects, the Makey Makey components include actuators, sensors, and a processor as a logical part of the device. This contributes to the development of all kinds of instructional activities where the student has a great participation and decision in the formative actions [48
This technopedagogical resource has several practical implications. Authors, such as [49
], assure that the Makey Makey is a resource with high pedagogical potential for use in educational centres, since it promotes the key competence of learning to learn. Its use in teaching–learning processes depends on the proposal made by the teacher, so it requires prior planning [30
Makey Makey, as contrasted in other previous research and with a previous pedagogical project, promotes concentration, motivation, cooperative learning, peer learning, and meaningful learning [50
], in addition to improving academic resources and student autonomy [35
]. Unlike other robotic tools, the potential of the Makey Makey lies in the possibility of connecting different physical and everyday elements around us to this device. All this favours the interaction of people with the environment, promoting multiple possibilities to promote computational thinking and creativity [51
Study Objective and Research Questions
Innovative practices, such as robotics, carried out in the field of education have demonstrated a series of potentialities in the teaching–learning process carried out by students. All this reflects a set of benefits in both psychosocial and academic indicators. These potentialities are focused on the improvement of various academic indicators, such as motivation, interactions, autonomy, collaboration, deepening of the content, problem solving, use of class time, and student ratings [29
]. In this study, the subject of physical education has been chosen as a case study to work on its contents from a different and innovative perspective. This subject has been identified as one of the most interactive and participatory by students [52
]. For this reason, it has been taken to give it a new vision through robotics. All this in order to achieve the potential previously described by the experts.
Therefore, this research focuses on analysing the scope of a training process through robotics through the use of the Makey Makey in the subject of physical education, providing a different didactic process, focused on more conservative physical activities. In order to know the scope of the different potentialities mentioned in robotics, this objective is complemented by the following research question: how does the use of playful interaction in a physical education course affect the different psychosocial and educational dimensions taken into account?
In general terms, the statistical data of a descriptive nature provided by the students of compulsory secondary education show differences at the level of means between the control group and the experimental group. In all cases, the sample presents a normal distribution, taking into account the values shown by the statistics of asymmetry and kurtosis, because their values are between ±1.96 [64
]. In the control group, the averages are around 2.8 points, except for ratings that reach 3. On the other hand, in the experimental group, all the measures of the dimensions studied exceed 3 points. This shows, at first sight, that the ratings of the experimental group are higher than those of the control group in all the dimensions analysed. Furthermore, the experimental group shows less dispersion in responses than the control group, if the standard deviation is taken into account. That is, the students in the experimental group agree more among themselves in the study dimensions than those in the control group. Kurtosis, both in the control group and the experimental group, is platicuric, except in the teacher–student dimension of the experimental group, which is mesocuric (Table 1
The comparison of means shows, firstly, a higher valuation of all dimensions in the experimental group, compared to the control group. In the control group, the ratings are evenly matched between the dimensions themselves, except for ratings, which stand out considerably from the mean. In contrast, in the experimental group, there is a variety of measures. The dimensions motivation, teacher–student, student–content, collaboration, ratings, and teacher ratings stand out from the total average. These dimensions are the most valued. On the other hand, the dimensions student–student, autonomy, deepening, and class time are below the totalized average (Figure 3
The value of independence of the results achieved in the teaching and learning method applied for the control group based on the conventional teaching method, with respect to the pedagogical action of the experimental group based on the method based on robotics, has been analysed thanks to the Student t statistic. The data show diversity, as far as the levels of significance are concerned. In this case, the dimensions that are significant are motivation, teacher–student, student–content, collaboration, resolution, and teacher ratings. The rest of the dimensions are not significant to be considered. Of the dimensions that have significance, the level of association, if the values of the biserial correlation are taken into account, is medium, except in the collaboration and resolution dimensions, where the force of association is low. The size of the effect is very low in all the dimensions in which there has been a relationship of significance, with the exception of the ratio of students to content, where the effect size is moderate (Table 2
4. Discussion and Conclusions
The expansion of technology in all areas has meant the transition from an analogical era to a totally digital era [1
], where technological tools make it possible to cover everything from basic needs to the development of more complex research tasks in the field of Social Sciences, Health Sciences, Engineering, etc. Specifically, in the educational field, the inclusion of ICT allows us to offer students the presentation and development of contents in a more attractive and motivating way, but it does not always imply an active improvement of students in the teaching–learning processes [4
]. Note that the vast majority of authors believe the use of these technological resources should always be accompanied by similar methodological and pedagogical principles and a joint effort by teachers [40
]. For this reason, the pedagogical approach to use of ICT in educational institutions remains a key issue. An innovative paradigm and an innovative methodological approach are required to achieve active, social, collaborative, and meaningful learning [6
]. It is essential in this innovative approach to give students an active and participatory role, allowing them to be the protagonists of their own learning [7
Obviously, achieving these goals implies working on and improving teacher training. To reach these aims a radical change in the teaching practice in which the teacher becomes a guide in the didactic process, promoting the development of ICT and making it easier for students to incorporate new learning are required [18
]. This use of ICT implies a commitment by teachers and students to the social and cultural environment in which the activity takes place, adopting an educational approach that favours lifelong learning, learning to learn, and learning to think. Considering all the endless possibilities offered by ICT, robotics in the field of secondary education provides the necessary basis for active, participatory, and social learning [20
]. Thus, robotics as a pedagogical resource improves autonomy, creativity, attention, and even the development of social relations among students [26
]. In addition, from a pedagogical point of view, it also contributes to the development of computational thinking, the improvement of higher order cognitive processing, the use of logical processes and the application of algorithms [27
]. In this way, numerous skills and competences are developed in students, such as the power of imagination, artistic abilities, manipulative skills, and so on.
This research has compared, on the one hand, a teaching–learning process through the use of robotics, and on the other hand, the application of classical pedagogical actions. These didactic actions have been developed in the subject of physical education. In this case, the group where the educational experience is developed through robotics presents higher values in all the studied dimensions, if we compared it with the group where a conventional method has been developed. On the other hand, there is more dispersion of response in the control group than in the experimental group. This shows there is more agreement in the group where the educational experience with robotics has been applied than in the other study group. On the other hand, the measures given by the experimental group are more heterogeneous, since there are dimensions that exceed the total average. The most valued dimensions are motivation, teacher–student, student–content, collaboration, ratings, and teacher ratings.
Not all dimensions are significant in the applied study. In this case, those that show levels of significance are motivation, teacher–student, student–content, collaboration, resolution, and teacher ratings. All these dimensions proof to be relevant in the method where the teaching method with robotics is applied with respect to the more conventional teaching method in the development of the educational contents proposed. The strength of association between the dimensions that have been found to be significant has been medium-low. In this case, the strength of association is medium in motivation, teacher–student, student–student, and teacher ratings and is low in collaboration and resolution.
In brief, the teaching method in which robotics is used leads to more success in the field of physical education, compared to the more conventional method. In this case, the most relevant elements and where this teaching–learning process has the greatest influence are motivation, teacher–student, student–content, collaboration, resolution, and teacher rating.
The prospective of this research is quite profitable in the sense that it allows future professionals to acknowledge how robotics can contribute and play its part in education, particularly in the subject of physical education. As said before, this research has been carried out with students of compulsory secondary education, but future research can use these data and apply it to other students’ age groups. What is clear is that our main aim lay on the fact of presenting a current, updated, innovative, and useful pedagogical approach to deal with the development of new didactic contents.
However, this research has its own limitations. Primarily, the fact that the study population has its own idiosyncratic characteristics. For this reason, we must be aware of how this sociological environment may condition other research if applied to the same aim and to other population. It is important to be aware of that. In fact, we could not apply sampling techniques in this research, because the access to population was made for convenience. It is comprehensible due to the fact this population group shows difficulties when approaching them. Last but not least, with regards to the method and the data collection, we did a great deal, because researchers had to previously train teachers to be able to apply these teaching and learning methods.
With regards to future lines of research, we may state that this didactic method can be applied to other contents and, hence, can be used in other subjects and in other educational stages, with other students of different age. Obviously, this will let us know its viability in other types of contents, and it could also be applied to other ages of students. What is more, it can also be applied to assess the didactic possibilities it offers. These reasons strongly show the need of keeping on with the future lines mentioned as far as they allow the establishment of a comparison of results with other teaching experiences, such as those of the STEM model. So far for the development of teaching and learning processes and with regards to future lines of action, the fact that it can be applied to other contents makes it interdisciplinary, offering endless possibilities for learning and motivation in students. Besides the fact that it can be applied to students of different ages also makes it more attractive and versatile.