Shane Romero


Colorado School of Mines MS Theses

Publication Year

This thesis addresses the critical intersection of socially assistive robots (SARs) and special education, with a primary focus on the role of teleoperators— special educators—in shaping the effective implementation of SARs. The three interconnected studies provide a comprehensive perspective on the essential aspects of SAR utilization in special education. In Study One, session summary and progress reports emerged as multifaceted tools integral to the credibility of SAR interventions. Balancing visualization for a diverse audience while ensuring teleoperators have adequate details for informed judgments, such as engagement and proficiency metrics, proves crucial. Study Two delves into the nuanced needs of special education teachers, revealing the intricate landscape of the field. The challenge lies in designing for diverse tracking methods and multifaceted dimensions of success, including academic goals, behavioral observations, social interactions, and health metrics. This complexity necessitates careful consideration of collaborative dynamics, presenting a challenge in creating a universally effective design. Study Three highlights the significance of a structured support system, emphasizing community building among special educators. Practical strategies, including continuous assistance, hands-on sessions, accessible resources, and incentivized professional development, empower educators and enhance their understanding of SARs. The study underscores the specific needs of special educators, providing valuable considerations for institutions to support effective implementation. In conclusion, this collectively emphasize the dual importance of refining teleoperation interfaces and ensuring effective implementation to ensure SAR success in special education. Technological advancements alone are insufficient; the key lies in strategies empowering and supporting educators operating SARs. This research advocates for a holistic approach, focusing on the perspectives of special educators. Such an approach ensures widespread SAR adoption and positive impacts on the lives of children in special education settings.