Steve Davis, Senior Lecturer and Module Leader for Foundation in Life Sciences, and Lewis Mattin, lecturer in Human Physiology, find that Labster creates a richer learning experience that prepares their students for real-life experiments. This case study takes a closer look at how they integrate Labster into their courses at the University of Westminster and the impact it has on student engagement and success.
I saw some of the students who clearly didn’t necessarily like sitting there reading a book, or who were slower at reading a book, discover they could turn on Labster and keep up with the rest of the class because it would speak to them. And I saw that as a huge change in barrier for someone with that type of learning disability.
Lewis Mattin, PhD
“Getting it” faster with Labster
“When we used Labster, suddenly students were “getting” things. I think Labster enabled them to get over that block of, ‘Okay, this is the text on the page, but how does that look in the real world?’ They can’t see cells, they can’t see membrane channels, so I think it really helped actually being able to visualize things in 3D on a screen like that,” said Davis.
Mattin agreed. “We struggled with things like membrane potentials and the squid axon because we physically couldn’t show them to students in the lab.”
Visualizing phenomena leads to student engagement
Davis described seeing a change in his students following their Labster experience. “I’ve taught this particular tutorial for around six or seven years, and every time previously you could just see the students were really grinding it, trying to understand. So that was always a real struggle,” said Davis. “But this time around when I started the tutorial with them after they had done that Labster as homework, I noticed they were suddenly asking the appropriate questions and they were engaged in a different way.”
Supporting students who are falling behind with multimodal learning
“The impact of Labster really came in when we saw that the students who were a bit further behind than others really sort of jumped. We could see that changing the platform allowed them to grab a concept and sort of take it forward,” said Mattin.
Mattin saw Labster from a unique perspective. “I’m dyslexic, so I’ve always struggled to engage in books, even though reading is something that I actually very much like. And I saw some of the students who clearly didn’t necessarily like sitting there reading a book, or who were slower at reading a book, discover they could turn on Labster and keep up with the rest of the class because it would speak to them. And I saw that as a huge change in barrier for someone with that type of learning disability,” he said.
Reaching a new generation by connecting science to gaming
Both Mattin and Davis described their students as part of a new generation who were pleased to learn in a digital environment.
“Labster kind of links the scientific world to the gaming world, and that allows people to engage in a slightly different manner, which seems to help learning progress and develop,” said Mattin. “Don’t be scared off by Labster just because it’s not something that you might not use yourself. The students are a different generation and they may pick it up and run with it.”
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