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The UIC Learning + Interest + Technology Lab was founded in 2019 to support collaborative research studies in human-robot interaction and learning sciences disciplines. Our research focuses on developing social robotic interactions to leverage the power of social processes to enhance learning and sustain long-term engagement. We aim to understand how people develop and apply mental models for social robotic interactions and how those models influence (1) the way students engage in learning activities, (2) long-term interaction with social robots, particularly in schools and homes, and (3) the design of authoring tools to empower professionals, including teachers, to design their own custom social robot interactions. We apply this understanding to focus on how social interactions support learning and interest processes in STEM fields and how social robots can serve as both pedagogical tools and agents to provide socially situated scaffolds within learning environments.

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