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ALEKS - Assessment and Learning

14. Learning Rates in ALEKS


ALEKS allows instructors to flexibly evaluate and interpret student learning. There are three criteria, which can be used in any combination: percentage of course goals mastered, total hours spent in ALEKS, and average items gained per hour of use. Each can be set to "Private," so that only the instructor sees the evaluations, to "Public," so that the instructor sees the evaluations for all students, and each student sees their own, or to "Disabled," so that no one sees them.
Instructions on how to access the learning rates feature can be found in the Instructor's Manual under "Assign Learning Rates," in the chapter "Advanced Instructor Module: Course Reports."
Any of these criteria that is set to "Public" will be seen by the students. For example, if the evaluation for percentage of course goals mastered is set to A for 90 percent, B for 80 percent, C for 70 percent, D for 60 percent, and Failure below that, the students will see these letters in their accounts as long as their percentage mastery is in the ranges given (i.e., D when it is between 60 and 69 percent). This will only make sense when the students are close to finishing the course, and may cause confusion if the grades are made "Public" before then.
The same proviso applies to the other kinds of evaluations available through ALEKS. The value of using these evaluations in the "Public" mode may be greatly enhanced if the instructor decides to set a new scale every week, or at other appropriate intervals. This might mean, for example, that A is set to 20 percent for the first week, to 25 percent for the second week, and so forth, with the other evaluations set accordingly. Such a procedure requires more work by the instructor, but it certainly gives the students a more meaningful frame of reference for their progress.
Some of the kinds of evaluations in ALEKS may be more useful for the instructor alone than for the students. Such evaluations should be set to "Private." The evaluation based on average items gained per hour, for example, might be set to some minimum value like one (in an Algebra class requiring one topic of work in ALEKS per hour as a minimum). Now, the instructor would not want to send the message to the students that one item gained per hour is "Enough," since many students in the course may be capable of much more. Conversely, a student whose progress falls below this rate might not be helped by the stern notation in their account that their progress is "Not enough"; there may be all kinds of reasons for slow progress. At the same time, a student making slower progress than this should be brought to the instructor's attention for intervention of some kind. If the evaluation is set to "Private," the instructor will see the flag "Not enough" appearing next to the names of students whose progress is slower than this, on the Course Progress page, alerting them to the need for special attention.

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