SALT LAKE CITY, June 26, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- WGU Labs, the nonprofit EdTech consulting, incubation, research, and design arm of Western Governors University (WGU), today announced the launch of Solutions Lab, an initiative designed to enhance the student experience and drive key results by crafting and testing innovative solutions that address critical challenges and inequities within WGU's student experience.

Solutions Lab leverages WGU’s unique operating model as an ideal testing ground for educational innovations. The initiative will focus on audience segments of up to 5% of the WGU student body over two to six months. These small-scale, exploratory pilots will aim to uncover scalable solutions that can significantly improve the academic journey for WGU students.

Key projects for Solutions Lab include:

  • Belonging Intervention: Researchers will identify how and if belonging interventions customized to the WGU experience can improve the student experience and students' academic outcomes.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) Assisted Learning Platforms: Researchers will test the impact of an AI-facilitated interactive tutor platform on student learning and students’ perception of AI in learning and faculty effectiveness.
  • Attitudes around AI: Researchers will examine student and course instructor attitudes toward using AI in the classroom and conduct a deep dive into how students utilize AI tools for their learning.
  • Understanding the Student Journey: Researchers will uncover the student journey in courses with disproportionately high drop rates to identify potential solutions for increasing engagement and supporting assessment completion.

"Solutions Lab is a dynamic platform for educational innovation, aligning with our mission to systematically address student challenges and inequities by testing and refining scalable solutions," said Betheny Gross, Director of Research at WGU Labs. "By leveraging WGU's data-driven approach and unique model, we can quickly generate insights and implement changes that tangibly impact student success."

Solutions Lab allows teams to rapidly test solutions before committing to larger-scale investments, ensuring that resources are utilized effectively. Participants are involved in leading-edge research initiatives, staying at the forefront of educational innovation. Solutions Lab helps discover innovative methods to impact key educational outcomes, directly benefiting students and enhancing their learning experiences.

“Solutions Lab is an innovative initiative with real potential to improve student outcomes,” said Dr. Courtney Hills McBeth, Chief Academic Officer and Provost at WGU. “With access to a large data set, the research team at WGU Labs is uniquely positioned to quickly scale solutions across WGU.”

This year, Solutions Lab is concentrating on several key areas, with the aim of delivering practical outcomes that directly benefit WGU students. These include understanding and enhancing student belonging, with a current project focused on a belonging intervention in collaboration with the WGU School of Technology (COIT). Additional efforts will aim at reframing institutional messaging to encourage student engagement and support overall student success.