Guidance in storytelling tables supports emotional development in kindergartners

Promoting the social-emotional development of kindergartners is of special relevance as will lay the foundations for emotion regulation in later childhood and adulthood stages. Considering that tangible storytelling tables are already used for language and literacy skills in kindergarten, we addressed the problem of designing a storytelling intervention aimed at social-emotional development suitable in such a context by using an emotional laden story as content and embedding a guidance method that can be implemented with either a human or robot guide to enhance the learning setting. The study considered two guided storytelling activities (one traditional guided by the teacher, and one in which guidance was provided by a robot) and a control condition without additional guidance. The three conditions were compared in terms of kindergartners’ enactment process, an emotion recognition test and a story recall test. The results show that the guidance method properly supported emotion naming, children involvement and goal completion during the storytelling activity whereas the intervention supported the learning gain on emotion recognition. The study revealed that both robot and human guidance did not differ significantly in the performance tests but did outperform the control. In view of the results, this research is helpful for researchers and teachers to create in an informed way a range of environments in the kindergarten class based on storytelling tables, either with or without guidance, and with or without robot support. Future work may further investigate how specific interaction issues concerning robot embodiment (e.g., voice and behavioral cues to direct children’s attention) might enhance or not the children’s performance.

keywords: Technology enhanced storytelling, Emotional development, Guidance, Instruction method, Kindergartners, Human-robot interaction