Study Indicates AI Support Can Help Prevent College Students from Failing STEM Classes

Credits: EDUCAUSE Review

Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have unveiled a groundbreaking approach to enhancing academic performance among college students in STEM fields, leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) interventions to significantly improve outcomes.

The study, recently published by the university, highlights the effectiveness of utilizing AI interventions to bolster student achievement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses.

This development comes as retention rates in undergraduate STEM majors have dipped below 50%, with graduation rates trailing approximately 20% lower than non-STEM majors.

AI Support Tech (Credits: Boston Consulting Group)

Lead researcher Mohammad Hasan, an expert in big data and artificial intelligence at UNL, was prompted to explore this avenue after observing a concerning trend of students seeking assistance to improve their grades towards the end of the semester.

Hasan noted the limitations of addressing these concerns at such a late stage and sought to develop a proactive AI-based support system.

Partnering with Bilal Khan, a former UNL researcher now at Lehigh University, Hasan embarked on training an AI model using data from homework assignments, test scores, and final grades of over 500 students enrolled in a computer science course between 2015 and 2018. In fall 2019, they piloted the model on 65 undergraduates taking the same course.

The intervention involved sending automated emails to 32 students at intervals of six, nine, and 12 weeks into the semester, containing the AI model’s projections of their academic success.

AI Support Tech (Fox News)

These projections categorized students into groups based on their likelihood of success: good, fair, prone-to-risk, or at risk of failing. Meanwhile, the remaining 33 students received a single message stating that the AI could not make a prediction.

At the semester’s conclusion, the results were striking. Nearly 91% of students who received proactive AI interventions passed the course, compared to 73% of those who did not.

Moreover, a significant portion of students who actively monitored their status based on the AI projections reported an increase in their academic efforts after receiving feedback, indicating the efficacy of this approach in motivating students to improve their performance.

This innovative use of AI holds promise not only for addressing the challenges faced by STEM students but also for revolutionizing academic support systems across various disciplines.

As universities seek novel strategies to enhance student success and retention, AI interventions offer a proactive and personalized approach to promoting achievement and fostering a culture of academic excellence.

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