Labster a hit with Curtin Malaysia foundation students

Miri – 3 November 2021 – Earlier this year, the Faculty of Engineering and Science at Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) introduced the use of Labster, a virtual laboratory simulator, for the teaching of its Foundation in Engineering and Science students. The aim was to ensure the students get the most out of their one-year course leading to their undergraduate degrees in the current online learning environment.

Since it was introduced, the students have taken to Labster with much enthusiasm, finding it a very innovative and useful learning tool.

Labster is the world’s leading provider of virtual science labs, providing access to over 2,000 institutions and over three million students around the world. With a menu of over 150 virtual labs introducing students to subjects ranging from biology and chemistry to microbiology and physiology and more, the system has proven ideal learning tool for the foundation students.

The system uses gamification and storytelling approaches to engage students in course materials, and lecturers can track student activity, allowing for intervention and support as necessary. Students can learn from trial and error in the virtual lab just as they would in a physical lab, and as Labster gives students access to a wide range of lab equipment, they also get the feel of equipment found in physical labs.

Student Brandon Chai Chan An said conducting lab experiments virtually using Labster has been a surprisingly fun learning experience. “Although we did not manage to use real lab equipment for our experiments, the online lab simulations were very realistic. We had lots of fun doing the experiments and learned lots of problem-solving techniques which I am sure we will continue to use in the physical labs on campus later,” Chai said.

Chai’s classmate Jeff Ho Chia Wee also found Labster to be effective and a lot of fun because of its innovative gamification designed to create realistic, real-time experiences and motivate and engage users. “I found it a really fun way to learn physics. I would often repeat experiments just to try to achieve a better score and ended up learning more in the process. The scoring system is a great motivator, encouraging students to be more proactive and engaged,” he said.

The same goes for Hannah Nicole Abraham, who said she gained significant knowledge from the simulations and she would repeat them multiple times to get satisfactory results. The only downside was the occasional technical glitch that could happen with any online application, but overall, it has been a satisfactory experience for her.

Ashley Dominic said she was really looking forward to starting her foundation course and conducting experiments in labs on campus but COVID-19 prevented that. “Fortunately, there was Labster and I could still carry out experiments virtually. As I am taking the Human Biology unit, I was able to conduct simulations related to Microscopy, Cell Structure, Overview of Muscle Tissue, and Hematology. Labster is that versatile. I really hope we can continue using Labster even when we start face-to-face learning,” said Ashley.

Mikee Kylie Dupaya also heaped praises on Labster, saying it was an effective substitute for physical lab sessions and she could still conduct realistic experiments and get the desired results. “I still gained a lot of knowledge and got all the information I needed from the experiments. Furthermore, the simulator would ask me questions that tested my understanding of the experiments, which was really good,” she remarked.

Dayang Farzana Aidha Awang Idrus agreed, saying the questions allowed her to review her experiments and get a better understanding of the theories behind them. She said the system’s high quality graphics also provided her a good visual understanding, and all information was well presented and easy to understand.

Meanwhile, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Science, Professor Tuong-Thuy Vu, said quality and innovation are key to the design and delivery of courses at Curtin Malaysia. To stay relevant in today’s fast-evolving higher education sector, the university is always seeking to introduce new and innovative ways of learning and teaching, especially in the current online learning environment.

“We have to ensure our students can continue effective learning and Labster has proven very useful, as attested by the students themselves,” he said.

According to Dr. Raymond Chiong, Head of the Department of Foundation in Engineering and Science, Labster is used specifically for the Chemistry for Engineers, Physics for Engineers and Human Biology units, which are the core foundation units for Curtin’s undergraduate engineering and science courses. He said laboratory experiments are crucial to engineering and science courses as they reinforce and complement the theories taught in class.

Curtin Malaysia’s foundation programmes in Engineering and Science, Commerce and Arts are designed for school leavers to gain the essential skills and knowledge for a smooth transition to tertiary study, providing the best possible fundamentals to undertake a Bachelor’s degree. The programmes feed directly into undergraduate courses in engineering and science, business and humanities, which are identical to those at Curtin University’s main campus in Perth but at affordable Malaysian fees. All are recognised by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA).

Many of the undergraduate courses are world-ranked in the global subject rankings, such as the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022, ShanghaiRanking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2021 and Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject 2021.Curtin is currently ranked among the top 200 universities in the world in the QS World University Rankings (QSWUR) 2022.

For more information on courses at Curtin Malaysia, visit courses.curtin.edu.my or send an email to enquiries@curtin.edu.my. The Semester 1F, 2022 (January) intake for foundation courses, as well as the Semester 1, 2022 (February) intake for undergraduate courses, are now open.

Labster has proven to be a very effective and versatile learning and teaching tool.

Labster’s 3D virtual chemistry laboratory, where students can virtually pick up the pipette.

Students can collect experimental data virtually.

Brandon Chan – Conducting lab experiments virtually using Labster has been a surprisingly fun learning experience.

Hannah Nicole Abraham – The only downside was the occasional technical glitch, but overall, it has been a satisfactory experience.

Ashley Dominic – I really hope we can continue using Labster even when we start face-to-face learning.

Dayang Farzana Aidha Awang Idrus – The application has high quality graphics and information is well presented and easy to understand.

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