[robotics-worldwide] Fully funded PhD studentship on Learner Modelling for Social Robotics

Ginevra Castellano g.castellano at bham.ac.uk
Mon Oct 8 03:18:10 PDT 2012


*Fully funded PhD studentship on Learner Modelling for Social Robotics
School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of 
Birmingham, United Kingdom*

We invite applications for a PhD student to work in our new EMOTE 
(EMbOdied-perceptive Tutors for Empathy-based learning) Project, funded 
by the European Commission in the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The 
project aims to design and evaluate a new generation of robotic tutors 
that have perceptive capabilities to engage in empathic interactions 
with learners in schools and home environments.

We are looking for an excellent student with a solid background in one 
or more of the following domains: artificial intelligence, pattern 
recognition, signal processing, human-computer interaction. Interest in 
disciplines such as education, robotics, affective computing, 
intelligent tutoring systems, psychology and social sciences would be 
desirable. Good programming skills are required. The candidate should 
have a strong BSc degree (at least a 2:1) or MSc degree in computer 
science or related areas relevant to the PhD topics.

The successful candidate will contribute to managing the research 
activities in the project, with a focus on designing approaches for 
learner modelling and investigating mechanisms to support personalised 
learning through robotic tutors. A key aspect of this research is the 
investigation of the role of pedagogical and empathic interventions in 
the process of engaging the learner and facilitating their learning 
progress with a robotic tutor. Research activities will involve close 
collaboration with other researchers at the University of Birmingham and 
other partners of the project in different European countries.

The post is available from December 2012/January 2013 for three years 
(starting date is negotiable) and is fully funded only for candidates 
with UK or EU nationality. The studentship will cover fees and a 
tax-free stipend up to £15,580 per annum.

The successful candidate will join the recently established HCI centre, 
a joint venture between the School of Electronic, Electrical and 
Computer Engineering and the School of Computer Science of the 
University of Birmingham. The Centre takes a people-centred perspective 
on interaction and technology to lead the development of our 
understanding on how people interact with technologies, and how one 
transforms the other.

*EMOTE Project Description*

Significant work has been devoted to the design of artificial tutors 
with human capabilities with the aim of helping increase the efficiency 
achieved with a human instructor. Yet, these systems still lack the 
personal, empathic and human elements that characterise a traditional 
teacher and fail to engage and motivate students in the same way a human 
teacher does. The EMOTE project will design, develop and evaluate a new 
generation of artificial embodied tutors that have perceptive 
capabilities to engage in empathic interactions with learners in a 
shared physical space. Overall, the EMOTE project aims to (1) research 
the role of pedagogical and empathic interventions in the process of 
engaging the learner and facilitating their learning progress and (2) 
explore if and how the exchange of socio-emotional cues with an embodied 
tutor in a shared physical space can create a sense of connection and 
social bonding and act as a facilitator of the learning experience. This 
will be done across different embodiments (both virtual and robotic), 
allowing for the effect that such embodiment will have on engagement and 
empathy to be explored. Further, the project will support the migration 
of the artificial tutors across different embodiments, to support 
students' learning in both formal and informal settings. To ground the 
research in a concrete classroom scenario, the EMOTE project will 
develop a showcase in the area of geography, focusing on environmental 
issues. This will enable tutors to be tested in real world school 
environments in different European countries. In order to achieve these 
objectives, the EMOTE consortium will bring together experts to carry 
out interdisciplinary research on affect recognition, learner models, 
adaptive behaviour and embodiment for human-robot interaction in 
learning environments, grounded in psychological theories of emotion in 
social interaction and pedagogical models for learning facilitation.

To apply for the position, please send the following documents to Dr. 
Ginevra Castellano (g.castellano at bham.ac.uk):

-    A copy of your CV including the final (or expected) grades of your 
BSc and, if applicable, MSc degree
-    A covering letter detailing ideas for a research proposal (max 2 
pages) and including the names of two academic referees
-    2 representative publications or project reports (e.g., BSc final 
year project report, MSc thesis, etc.) in PDF format

The deadline for applications is *Monday 5 November 2012.*

Informal enquiries and requests for further information about the EMOTE 
project to:
Dr Ginevra Castellano (g.castellano at bham.ac.uk)


-- 
Dr. Ginevra Castellano
School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Centre for Human-Computer Interaction
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
United Kingdom

Telephone: +44 (0)121 414 7118
Email: g.castellano at bham.ac.uk
http://www.eee.bham.ac.uk/castellg/




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