Educational robotics (ER) is a subset of educational technology that includes robotic kits and social robots utilized with a goal to facilitate teaching and learning. Scientific publications on educational robotics are commonly anticipated by references to constructivism and constructionism. However, in philosophy, social sciences and cognitive science, constructivism is not a unified framework but a conglomerate of at least six different branches with diverse ontological, epistemological and pragmatic positions. This thesis takes a form of a critical survey where my aim was to map and to evaluate what constructivism means in and for educational robotics research. To meet this goal, I collected and studied 57 ER publications dated 2000–2018. Following an extended introduction into constructivist debates in philosophy and cognitive science, and the discussion how these in influenced contemporary educational paradigms in the first and second chapters of the thesis, in the third chapter I proceed to lay out the insights I gathered during my survey of educational robotics literature. As expected, interpretations ranged from less theoretically informed where constructivism is reduced to any instances of hands-on manipulations of robotic technology, to more informed where constructivism is interpreted through the lens of subject-centered constructivist strands (Piaget-derived cognitive constructivism and its spin-off constructionism). In the latter group, notions associated with authentic education paradigm, such as collaboration, personalization, exploratory learning, and others, are addressed either as pedagogical strategies or as objects of research on their own terms. Though fewer in numbers, the field is also represented by studies that integrate concepts from social constructivism with the overall authentic education orientation. Here, Vygotskian concepts such as zone of proximal development, more knowledgeable other and scaffolding are commonly referred to. The thesis concludes with a broader discussion and my suggestions for future research.
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