Addressing the Leaky Pipeline in STEM Education: The Research-Backed Impact of Labster

Ginelle Testa

In the realm of STEM education, the challenges of engaging students, boosting enrollment, and ensuring persistence are top concerns for educational leaders.

The urgency of these challenges is shown by a revealing report from the White House, which indicates that a mere 20% of high school graduates are adequately prepared for the academic demands of STEM majors. This lack of preparedness contributes to a "leaky pipeline" phenomenon in higher education, where students are increasingly likely to disengage and depart from STEM fields during their college or university years.

There are other issues, like students from underrepresented minoritized backgrounds having to drop out at higher rates or students with neurodivergence struggling to avoid burnout in STEM. 

Read more in our guide, 4 Ways Labster Helps Solve Higher Ed Challenges

While there are many creative ways to tackle these issues, Labster offers one research-backed solution: an immersive digital science platform that delivers a learning advantage to students. Here’s the impact we can prove on student success: 

  • Improved DFW (Drop, Fail, Withdrawal) rates
  • Enhanced student engagement
  • Boosted course enrollment

How Labster Impacts Student Success

A recent research study examined the impact of Labster use on student outcomes for courses

taken during Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 at a large university in Texas. Here’s what it found.

Improved DFW Rates

Labster's intervention led to a remarkable 34% reduction in DFW rates across Biology I and II courses, illustrating its impact in supporting students through challenging courses.

Boosted course enrollment

Evidence of Labster's influence extends to course enrollment decisions. A survey revealed that students exposed to virtual lab assignments prior to in-person labs were five times more likely to pursue additional STEM courses, underlining the platform's role in inspiring continued STEM education.

Enhanced student engagement

Labster transforms the science learning experience by making it engaging and interactive. Students not only enjoy the material but also achieve higher quiz scores, showcasing the platform's success in making science accessible and fun.

In 2023, Labster partnered with LXD Research to evaluate the impact of its simulation platform on student success. Researchers used cluster analysis to identify engagement styles, drawing random samples from 151,552 students learning with Labster in colleges and universities in the US. The findings were clear: 74% – 82% of students were highly engaged, completing labs multiple times on average and achieving quiz scores of 92 - 100%.

Final Thoughts

As we navigate the complexities of educating the next generation of STEM professionals, Labster's research-backed solution offers a chance for a more engaging and successful STEM education landscape.

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