ALEKS - Assessment and Learning

Implementation Strategies

Our success stories encompass a wide variety of implementation models and best practices, from lecture-based to emporium labs to course redesigns. The flexibility of ALEKS made it simple and effective for these schools to improve their student success rates, and they are willing to share their strategies.

College of Marin, CA
2 Year Community College

Scenario: I use ALEKS in a traditional course with a textbook.
Purpose: Online Course
ALEKS Course: Introduction to Statistics

Ira Lansing, Professor
ALEKS has been very positive for both me and my students. Improvement comes from the stress-free nature of ALEKS. Once students recognize that the assessment does not result in a grade, but learning the topics does, they tend to move through the material more effectively.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
Students cheating was a challenge, as well as time consuming administrative tasks.

Was ALEKS used in your course with all students or with targeted students?
Students chose to enroll in the online section.

Number of students who used ALEKS for the course and term:
Number of sections: 4
Number of students per ALEKS section: 51
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 51

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
The course is all online; students set their own pace.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: Approximately 2-3
Hours per week: Approximately 6-10
Hours per term: 100

For the sections that do NOT use ALEKS during this specific term, what do they work on in place of ALEKS?
These sections used textbook assignments.


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
ALEKS is the curriculum! For our on line sections it is the primary source. Students have secondary sources, such as a text, ActivStats, and supplemental materials.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
No, students select topics of their choosing from their pie.

Do you integrate a textbook with your course using ALEKS Textbook Integration? Please describe how you set up your chapter completion dates.
No.

How often do you use the ALEKS Instructor Module?
I use the Instructor Module periodically throughout the term.

How do you incorporate ALEKS homework assignments into your course?
ALEKS  is assigned as 100 percent of the students' homework responsibilities.

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
A final scheduled assessment is given, otherwise assessments occur as per the ALEKS process.

How do you use ALEKS in conjunction with any other learning management systems, course management programs, etc.?
Student data was downloaded from ALEKS and imported into a database (FileMaker Pro).


Grading

What percent of a student's grade does ALEKS make up?
100 percent.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
Student grades are based on the percentage of topics that are mastered in assessment. 95-100 percent assessed = A; 88-94 percent assessed = B; 80-87 percent assessed = C; 70-79 percent assessed = D; less than 70 percent = F

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
100 percent.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Yes, students are assessed on approximately 13 percent of the topics every two weeks.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I view the most recent assessment report on a bi-weekly basis.

Do you notice that students who spend more time in ALEKS perform better in the course than those students who spend less time in ALEKS?
Not necessarily. Twenty percent of the students who work intensely for a short part of the entire semester on ALEKS do quite well. There is an equal percentage of students who work consistently doing the amount of work/time that I think is necessary and do equally well. The remaining students work about half the recommended time; 60 percent of these students ultimately pass.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
Improvement comes from the stress-free nature of ALEKS. Once students recognize that the assessment does not result in a grade, but learning the topics does, they tend to move through the material more effectively.


Learning Outcomes

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
Students are happy with ALEKS once they learn time management skills!


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
Educating the students on the differences between learning in ALEKS and learning in an on-campus section of the course.

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
I will check identification of each student before exams in order to discourage cheating.

Which ALEKS course product(s) have you used in the past?
Basic Math, Beginning Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, PreCalculus, Trigonometry, Introduction to Statistics

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
Check identification of each student before exams to discourage cheating.

Additional Insights:
Be very specific and very clear about what is expected and how the student will be evaluated. The strength of ALEKS as a 100 percent online course is that assessments cover past, present, and future topics.