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WGU LABS

We learn how to help people learn.

  • Overview

    Welcome to WGU Labs: Center for Applied Learning Science (CALS).

    CALS is a non-profit innovation lab creating meaningful change in student achievement not only at WGU, but also the broader education sector.  Our team targets significant challenges in education that have no clear solutions, drawing from a body of research and data to create activities with measurement built in.

    We follow a rigorous process to  create deliberately-designed digital activities, products, and tools – all in support of student success. Through our growing student population and research partners, we have the ability to conduct randomized controlled trials, confirming the efficacy of our products.

  • Projects

    The CALS team is designing a comprehensive set of activities that focus on strengthening math concepts while targeting emotional barriers to learning math. We are developing content for at-risk adult students currently taking a math course or preparing for one. These online modules draw from research in learning science and behavioral science.

    CALS is designing a system of just-in-time nudges based on data from student performance and engagement patterns. Nudges either go directly to students or to individuals that students elect from their personal networks. This project builds on an earlier pilot that showed improvements in student on-time progress.

    The Professional Leadership and Communication Course boosts student resilience and discipline, resulting in improvements to student outcomes. Course content and strategy build on decades of research and independent evaluation, focusing on personal and interpersonal dynamics. 

    Today, more than 20,000 students have experienced the course.   In a student survey, over 76% of students reported they are more motivated to graduate following their experience.

    CALS is identifying beneficial student behaviors that support learning engagement and study patterns, drawing from research on motivation.  Our products are grounded in psychological and behavioral research, with the goal to encourage these beneficial behaviors and improve student outcomes.

    CALS facilitated a major research effort aimed at college readiness through the Diagnostic Assessment and Achievement of College Skills (DAACS). The assessment provides personalized feedback to students about strengths and weaknesses in math, reading, writing, and self-regulated learning.

    This First in the World grant for $3 million over four years was awarded by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education to develop and evaluate the assessment, in collaboration with the University at Albany, Excelsior College, and Rutgers.

    For this project pilot, we created custom time-management tools prepopulated with key milestones during a term, triggering a set of reminders for the student. We conducted a study on how students interacted with the tools, correlating course completion rates and academic success.

  • Awards

    2018 National Science Foundation
    Grant Award

    The NSF has awarded a grant to CALS in collaboration with Professor Carolyn Rosé (Carnegie-Mellon University), funding research into the benefits of an intelligent coaching agent interacting with WGU social communities.

    https://www.povertyactionlab.org/

    Education, Technology, and Opportunity Innovation Competition 2018
    Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab
    MIT Dept of Economics

    J-PAL awarded CALS support to evaluate of the effectiveness of online activities intended to help students succeed in math.

    2017 Digital Learning Innovation Award
    Online Learning Consortium

    OLC recognized our team for a specialized undergraduate course that develops nursing students’ affective skills, enabling them as active co-creators of their learning.

    2016 Effective Practice Award
    Online Learning Consortium

    The team received this award for a comprehensive course that aims to build emotional structures in an online environment through:

    • social support networks
    • self-reflective awareness
     
  • Partners

    Carnegie-Mellon University

    CALS has partnered with Professor Carolyn Ros‌é to develop a data-driven coaching agent that guides students in both formal and informal learning environments, suggesting resources and encouraging social connections.

    West Point

    CALS is collaborating with Dr. Richard Patterson at West Point to determine the most influential success factors in WGU's mentor-student model, including the mentor-student relationship and their communication styles.

Now Accepting Research Proposals

CONTACT US with your proposal for researching student success in an online environment.

CONTACT US

Professional leadership and communication course.

The Professional Leadership and Communication Course boosts student resilience and discipline, resulting in improvement to student outcomes. Course content and strategy build on decades of research and independent evaluation, focusing on personal and interpersonal dynamics. 

Today, more than 20,000 students have experienced the course.   As a result, these students are more likely to pass difficult courses faster, attempt more courses each term, and pass courses at higher rates. In a student survey, over 76% of students reported they are more motivated to graduate following their experience.

About Us

CALS is dedicated to student success.

CALS was established with an urgency to solve problems, developing products quickly for speed-to-insight. We aim to improve student outcomes by combining technology, design thinking, and rigorous research methods that are grounded in scientific literature.

We base our interventions on scientific principles and research in a student-focused design process. Our interdisciplinary teams bring experience, expert knowledge, and innovative approaches to technology. We continually strive to:

  • Improve learning and increase future learning potential.
  • Chip away at big challenges for WGU and the broader education sector.
  • Create happy, engaged, and effective learners.
  • Employ the gold standard of clinical research – randomized controlled trials – when possible, to ensure product efficacy.

CALS brings together experts in learning science, psychology, data science, and product design and development. 

We have current open positions. If you love what we do, we'd love to hear from you. 

Learning Experience Designer (UX Designer)

Sr Software Engineer (Full Stack Developer)

Porfolio Manager (Agile Scrum)

 

 

 

 

Meet our team.

The CALS staff is made up of a creative group of people who care student success and the value of quality research to contribute to that success.

MEET US