Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


First Advisor

Wendy M. Smith

Second Advisor

Leen-Kiat Soh

Third Advisor

Amanda Thomas

Date of this Version



Rankin, J.K. (2019). Impact of robotic challenges on fifth grade problem solving. (Master's thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, United States). Retrieved from


A thesis submitted to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education, Under the Supervision of Professor Wendy M. Smith & Professor Leen-Kiat Soh. Lincoln, Nebraska: August 2019

Copyright 2019 Julie Rankin


This action research project was designed to investigate the impact of educational robotics in a fifth grade rural classroom. The integration of science, technology, engineering, and math in education (STEM) has sparked an increase of robotics in the classroom. The purpose of the study was to determine if problem-solving skills can be impacted through continuing involvement with challenges using various educational robotics and programming tools. The study sought to answer two research questions: (1) How does the introduction of robotics challenges in a fifth-grade classroom impact students’ problem solving skills? (2) How do robotics in the classroom impact student interest and motivation? This was an action research project comprised of observations and problem-solving rubrics completed by the teacher. Additional data were collected through student interviews and problem-solving surveys completed by the participants. Data collection took place at three different times, during which five students in fifth grade were presented with various challenges throughout the school year. The goal of this study was to analyze whether or not students’ comfort level with problem-solving in robotics challenges improved after being involved in multiple educational robotics challenges, and how robotic challenges impacted students interest level and motivation.

Advisors: Wendy M. Smith & Leen-Kiat Soh ABSTRACT