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Sandra Okita

Professional Background

Educational Background

M.A., Ph.D. Stanford University
B.A., M.A., Ph.D. Keio University, Japan

Scholarly Interests

Sandra Y. Okita Curriculum Vitae (last update December 2014)

Dr. Okita's current research interest is focused on the learning partnership between individuals and technology, and how technology intersects with learning and instructional processes. One characteristic of Dr. Okita's work is the use of technological boundary objects as a threshold to learning, instruction, and assessment. Here, Dr. Okita defines boundary objects as computational artifacts where animate and inanimate features overlap between fantasy and reality (i.e. robots, agents in virtual reality environments, mixed-reality). Dr. Okita's interest in boundary objects is due to their strong social component that enables students to build a peer-like relation with technology that reveal new insights to the role of social relationships in learning.

Other interests include designing technology assisted learning/intervention in formal/informal settings, and children's interpretation and conceptual development in relation to technological boundary objects. Theoretical research interest areas include self-other monitoring, learning by teaching, learning by observation and its influence on behavior in the domain of biology, math, and agency.

Selected Publications

***The documents can be found under the "Papers" tab ***

Sociable Technologies and Learning- Learning with Pedagogical Agents, Avatars in Virtual Reality Environments:

Okita, S.Y. (in press). Turning to Embodied Technological Artifacts to Learn about Ourselves: Augmenting Performance and Learning through Recursive Feedback. In V. R. Lee (Ed.), Learning technologies and the body: Integration and implementation in formal and informal learning environments. New York, NY: Routledge.

Okita, S. Y. (2014). Learning from the folly of others: Learning to self-correct by monitoring the reasoning of virtual characters in a computer-supported mathematics learning environment. Computers and Education, 71, 257-278.

Okita, S. Y. (2014). The relative merits of transparency: Investigating situations that support the use of robotics in developing student learning adaptability across virtual and physical computing platforms. British Journal of Educational Technology, 45(5), 844-862.   

Okita, S. Y., Schwartz, D. L. (2013). Learning by Teaching Human Pupils and Teachable Agents: The Importance of Recursive Feedback. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 22(3), 375-412.     

Okita, S. Y., Turkay, S., Kim, M., Murai, Y. (2013). Learning by Teaching with Virtual Peers and the Effects of Technological Design Choices on Learning. Computers and Education. 63, 176-196. 

Okita, S.Y. (2012). Educational Technology and Instructional Design in Synchronous Blended Learning Environments. In E. Jean Francois (Ed.), Transcultural Blended Learning and Teaching in Postsecondary Education (pp.170-192). Hershey, PA, IGI Global.

Okita, S. Y. (2012). Social Interactions and Learning. In N. M. Seel (Ed.) Encyclopedia of the Science of Learning (pp. 3104-3107). Springer, US.

Okita, S. Y., Jamalian, A. (2011). Current Challenges in Integrating Educational Technology into Elementary and Middle School Math Education. Journal of Mathematics Education at Teachers College, 2(2)49-58.

Gordon, A. M., & Okita, S. Y. (2010). Augmenting pediatric constraint-induced movement therapy and bimanual training with video gaming technology.Technology and Disability, 22, 179-191. IOS Press.

Schwartz, D. L., Chase, C., Chin, D. B., Oppezzo, M., Kwong, H. Y., Okita, S. Y., Biswas, G., Roscoe, R., Jeong, H., & Wagster, J. (2009).Interactive metacognition: Monitoring and regulating a teachable agent. In D. J., Hacker, J. Dunlosky, A. C. Graesser (Eds.). Handbook of metacognition in education (pp. 340-358). New York, Routledge.

Okita, S.Y., Bailenson, J., Schwartz, D. L. (2008). Mere Belief of Social Action Improves Complex Learning In S. Barab, K. Hay, D. Hickey (Eds.), Proceedings of the 8th International Conference for the Learning Sciences. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Utrecht, The Netherlands (June, 2008)

Okita, S. Y. (2004). Effects of age on Associating Virtual and Embodied Toys, CyberPsychology and Behavior. Mary Ann Liebert Inc, Vol. 7(No.4): pp.464 - 471.

Human-Robot Interaction and Learning:

Okita, S.Y., & Ng-Thow-Hing, V. (in press). The effects of design choices on human-robot interactions in children and adults. In J. Marwowitz (Ed.), Robots that talk and listen. (pp. 291-320). De Gruyter. 

Okita, S. Y. (2013). Self-Other's Perspective Taking: The Use of Therapeutic Robot Companions as Social Agents for Reducing Pain and Anxiety in Pediatric Patients. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 16(6), 436-441.

Ng-Thow-Hing, V, & Okita, S. Y. (2012). Playdates with Robots, IEEE Computer Society, Computer, 45(8) 89-91.

Okita, S. Y., Ng-Thow-Hing, V., & Sarvadevabhatla, R. K. (2012). Captain May I? Proxemics Study Examining Factors that Influence Distance between Humanoid Robots, Children, and Adults during Human-Robot Interaction. Proceedings of the 7th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), (pp.203-204). March 6-8, Boston, MA.

Miyake, N., Okita, S. Y. (2012). Robot Facilitation as Dynamic Support for Collaborative Learning. In J. Aalst, K. Thompson, M. J. Jacobson, & P. Reimann (Eds.) Proceedings for the 10th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS). Vol. 2 (pp. 57-63), Sydney: University of Sydney: ISLS.

Okita, S. Y., Ng-Thow-Hing, V., & Sarvadevabhatla, R. K. (2011).Multimodal Approach to Affective Human-Robot Interaction Design with Children.ACM Transactions on Interactive Intelligent Systems (Tiis). ACM, 1(1) 5:1-29.

Okita, S. Y. (2010). E-Collaboration between People and Technological Boundary Objects: A New Learning Partnership in Knowledge Construction, In B. Ertl (Ed.). Technologies and Practices for Constructing Knowledge in Online Environments: Advancements in Learning, Hershey, PA:IGI Global ISBN: 1615209379.

Okita, S. Y., Ng-Thow-Hing, V., & Sarvadevabhatla, R. K. (2010). Learning with sociable robots and technology, developing an interactive learning partnership between humanoid robots and children. The 5th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), 2010 Workshop on Learning and Adaptation of Humans in HRI (pp. 1-4). March 2-5, Osaka Japan.

Ng-Thow-Hing, V., Luo, P., & Okita, S. Y. (2010). Synchronized gesture and speech production for humanoid robots. Proceedings of the 2010 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS). (pp. 4617-4624). October 18-22, Taipei, Taiwan.

Sarvadevabhatla, R. K., Ng-Thow-Hing, V., & Okita, S. Y. (2010).  Extended duration human-robot interaction: Tools and analysis. Proceedings of the 19th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN), (pp.7-14). September 12-15, Viareggio, Italy.

Okita, S.Y., Ng-Thow-Hing, V., Sarvadevabhatla, R. K. (2009). Learning Together: ASIMO Developing an Interactive Learning Partnership with Children, Proceedings of the 18th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN), ISBN: 978-1-4244-5081-7, pp.1125-1130, Toyama, Japan.

Okita, S. Y., Schwartz, D. L. (2006). Young Children's Understanding of Animacy and Entertainment Robots, International Journal of Humanoid Robotics (IJHR), World Scientific, Vol.3 (No.3): pp.393-412, 2006.




Primary Investigator, Columbia University Dean's Faculty Diversity  Research Award, $2,500, Digital divide and identity development: Use of math, science and technology as cultural learning tools in elementary school classrooms.


Investigator, National Science Foundation (NSF), $999,281, POlar learning and responding: POlar climate partnership.


Primary Investigator, Honda Research Institute, Industrial Research Grant, $155,250, Learning partnership between children and robots.


Primary Investigator, Research Institute of Digital Media and Content, $86,000, Global Studio Project between Columbia University and Keio University.


Primary Investigator, Research Institute of Digital Media and Content, $66,609, Global studio project with Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning and Keio University.


Primary Investigator, Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) collaborative research project with Dr. Takanori Shibata, equipment funding (PARO Robot).


Primary Investigator, Sony Entertainment America collaborative research project with Dr. Toshitada Doi, equipment funding (AIBO robots).


Primary Investigator, Omron Corporation collaborative research project with Dr. Hiroshi Nakajima, equipment funding (NECORO robot).


Julian-Pillsbury Fellowship and Research Award, Stanford University


Fulbright Scholarship offer for study abroad 


professional organization membership

  •  International Society of the Learning Science (ISLS)
  •  Cognitive Science Society
  •  American Educational Research Association (AERA)
  •  Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD)
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
  •  Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

professional experiences

Full CV listed under paper tab

Associate Professor
Department of Mathematics, Science, & Technology,Teachers College, Columbia University

Assistant Professor
Department of Mathematics, Science, & Technology,Teachers College, Columbia University

Part-time Lecturer
Department of Child and Adolescent Development, San Jose State University, USA

Research Associate
Research Institute for Digital Media and Content, Keio University, Japan

Research Assistant
School of Education, Stanford University


service and work outside nyc

Part-time Lecturer, San Jose State University, USA
2006 - 2007 Contextual Influences on Cognitive Development (Undergraduate course)

Teacher’s Aide, Rainbow School, Stanford University, USA
2003 Preschool, teacher’s aide in the classroom

Part-time Lecturer, Keio University, Japan
2000 - 2001 Computer Literacy (Undergraduate course)
Foreign Language Course (Undergraduate course)

Teaching Assistant, Keio University, Japan
1997 - 2000 Autonomous Distributed Collaborative System (Graduate course)
Media Architecture (Graduate course)
Mobile and Distributed Programming (Graduate course)

Student Assistant, Keio University, Japan
1994 - 1997 Computer Literacy (Undergraduate course)

Part-time Lecturer, Shinyo School Learning Center, Japan
1994 – 1995 Elementary School level Math
Junior high school English

MSTU 4083: Instructional design of educational technology

The nature of instructional technology, systems approaches to planning, managing, and evaluating instructional processes and materials. Emphasis is on instructional design. Special fee: $45.

MSTU 4133: Cognition and Computers

This course explores ideas about cognition and knowledge representation and how they relate to the use of computers in instruction. Students select a subject area, learn to represent knowledge from it so that it can be implemented in a computer instructional system, and use the knowledge representation to characterize the cognitive prerequisites and consequences of learning to use computers. Special fee: $45.

MSTU 5010: Boundaries and theories of learning with technological artifacts

This course will explore learning partnerships that take place between people and technological artifacts (robots, agent-avatars). The course examines social components of technological artifacts, introduces current research findings on learning in social interactions with such artifacts, and links these to cognitive factors that influence learning, knowledge construction, design, and assessment. Emphasis will be placed on the learning effect on the human partner. Small groups of students will work on a project throughout the semester. Special Fee: $ 45.

MSTU 5555: Technology and the emergence of a global curriculum

This course deals with the impact of technology on human society over the ages, how technology in particular is shaped by, and in turn shapes, the vision informing a specific culture and its curriculum, and how the global sharing of technology is inexorably contributing to the emergence of a common global curriculum. Uses its own website, Special fee: $35.

Documents & Papers

Okita & Schwartz, 2008 (Social Interactions and Learning)

Download: Mere Belief of Social Action Improves Complex Learning [PDF]

HRI 2012 (Human-Robot Interaction and Learning)

Download: Proxemics Study Factors that Influence Distance between Humanoid Robots, Children, and Adults [PDF]

Okita & Schwartz, 2006 (Human-Robot Interaction and Learning)

Download: Young Children's Understanding of Animacy and Entertainment Robots [PDF]