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.

Western Michigan University, MI
4 Year University / Public

Scenario: I use ALEKS in a traditional course with a textbook.
Purpose: Supplement, Remediation
ALEKS Course: Prep for PreCalculus

Rachel Lynn Salim, Mathematics Tutor
Overall, I really enjoy ALEKS. It is a versatile program that can be used as core curriculum or in conjunction with other methods of instruction. My students appreciate being able to log in on their own time, without having to go to a math lab that does not accommodate their schedules. Student success and improved performance has so much to do with ALEKS because the program provides instant feedback, requires practice until mastery, and assesses weaknesses effectively.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
We experienced remediation challenges.

Was ALEKS used in your course with all students or with targeted students?
ALEKS is used with students who request tutoring.

Number of students who used ALEKS for the course and term:
Number of sections: 2
Number of students per ALEKS section: 5
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 10

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
My students are typically enrolled in lecture courses, but when they come to our tutoring sessions, we employ many methods of instruction. During our tutoring sessions, I have the students work with ALEKS initially so that I can review their results and target their weakest areas.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: 2
Hours per week: 2
Hours per term: Approximately 20-25

For the sections that do NOT use ALEKS during this specific term, what do they work on in place of ALEKS?
When we are not using ALEKS, we review instructor notes or go over very basic math skills in a traditional manner. Those students that are beyond very basic math skills all use ALEKS in my course.


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
I use ALEKS as a homework substitute for many of my students, but I also use it during and outside of our tutoring sessions. ALEKS helps me to determine where student skill level is currently so that I can better assist them with their weaknesses.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
I mostly let students work at their own pace, but I recommend topics according their professor's syllabus at times.

How often do you use the ALEKS Instructor Module?
I use the Instructor Module a few times throughout the term.

How do you incorporate ALEKS homework assignments into your course?
I use the ALEKS homework feature to supplement students' homework assignments. I find this so effective that I have been able to successfully encourage a few other professors to use ALEKS for homework as well.

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
I use scheduled assessments and their results in order to generate individual success plans for each of my students.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
ALEKS allows me to focus instruction on my students' weakest areas. I am able to review specific topics and spend more time on problem areas for my students.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I use assessment reports to determine the students' weakest areas, then create and review individual success plans with each student.

How do you use ALEKS in conjunction with any other learning management systems, course management programs, etc.?
I use study skills and time management worksheets for all of my incoming students in addition to ALEKS, so that they can better plan for success in college.


Grading

What percent of a student's grade does ALEKS make up?
Professors determine whether or not ALEKS will be a part of a student's grade. I have seen ALEKS account for varying degrees of grades, from 0-20 percent.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
Because I tutor, I do not assign grades personally.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
I assign two hours of ALEKS homework per week to those students who are ready to work on math independently.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I want to make this a requirement for students I tutor in math, but it is not really up to me to make that decision. I try to have students stick to the contract we create depending on their class and work schedule, which is often two hours per week, and reward them for fulfilling their contracts.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I have my students print their assessment and learning results so that they can consult me or my supervisor to review their progress.

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?
It is clear to me that students who spend over ten hours per semester average at least one letter grade better than students who spend less than ten hours in ALEKS.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
Student success and improved performance has so much to do with ALEKS because the program provides instant feedback, requires practice until mastery, and assesses weaknesses effectively. ALEKS exposes my students to more math, which is beneficial.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
Since our implementation of ALEKS, my students' test grades show an average of ten points of improvement when they spend at least two hours on ALEKS per week. I also notice that students who spend more than ten hours in ALEKS per semester, have an average letter grade or more higher than students who do not use the program as much.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
My students really enjoy using ALEKS and seeing their progress in the program. Their success is carrying over to their other college courses as well.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
Our issues included coordinating computer and Internet access.

Which ALEKS course product(s) have you used in the past?
Basic Math, Intermediate Algebra, College Algebra with Trigonometry, PreCalculus