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.

Indiana University Northwest, IN
4 Year University / Public

Scenario: I use ALEKS in an online course without a textbook.
Purpose: Online Course
ALEKS Course: Beginning Algebra

William Odefey, Lecturer, Co-Director of Developmental Mathematics
I have worked with ALEKS since 2005, and have been the coordinator of all ALEKS courses at our university for the past two years. ALEKS has been able to help our university overcome placement and remediation issues as well as provide excellent milestones for our students to achieve in order to help them progress through their courses.


Scenario

Was ALEKS used in your course with all students or with targeted students?
Our students elect to take our ALEKS course.

Number of students who used ALEKS for the course and term:
Number of sections: 1
Number of students per ALEKS section: 26
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 26

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
We offer two study groups per week.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: 2
Hours per week: Approximately 5-7
Hours per term: Approximately 75-105

For the sections that do NOT use ALEKS during this specific term, what do they work on in place of ALEKS?
For those sections who do not use ALEKS, students take traditional lecture classes with MyMathLab as a homework supplement.


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
We use ALEKS as a remediation tool for our developmental math courses. We primarily offer ALEKS because the program allows us to cater to the majority of our students, who are members of the work force. ALEKS gives us a means to offer a flexible learning environment, as well as the opportunity to complete the course earlier than scheduled so that our students may focus their time and energy on more demanding courses that assign extensive projects.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
We cover ALEKS topics as they correspond with our integrated curriculum.

Do you integrate a textbook with your course using ALEKS Textbook Integration? Please describe how you set up your chapter completion dates.
Yes. We have 148 total topics, which breaks down to ten topics per week over a 15 week period.

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS Quizzes into your course?
I give a quiz at the end of each chapter.

How do you incorporate ALEKS homework assignments into your course?
I assign homework each week that covers approximately ten topics per week.

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
I schedule an assessment for my comprehensive final exam.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
I really try to maintain as traditional of a classroom as possible, without lectures.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I do not use the information that ALEKS provides because I spend the majority of my time utilizing the homework and quiz features.

How do you use ALEKS in conjunction with any other learning management systems, course management programs, etc.?
Our university uses Blackboard to provide a place to exchange documents and messages regarding ALEKS.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
Successful completion of the ALEKS pie counts for 100 percent of the students' grade.

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

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Yes. I have the course structured so that my students must accomplish a minimum of ten topics per week.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I use the homework and quiz reports, as well as time spent in ALEKS to determine student progress.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
In our developmental environment, students appreciate the ability to work at topics several times before they finally succeed. This provides encouragement for many.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
ALEKS can identify students who do not have the necessary prerequisites for the course. ALEKS can include these necessary preliminary topics, as well as the prerequisite remediation topics, to provide a course students can succeed in. We experienced mixed results with ALEKS until the most recent upgrade to the program. It is now easier to offer a more structured environment with the new homework and quiz features.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
My students really enjoy the homework and quiz features in ALEKS because they allow them to learn from their mistakes and move forward from their current level. The assessments are not met with as much enthusiasm, but by going over the topics that the class has issues with, instructors are able to move all students forward.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
A lack of structure for our developmental students was an issue initially, but the upgrade to ALEKS addressed this situation by providing instructors the ability to follow student progress and set regularly attainable milestones.

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
The only additional tool I want to implement next time is a progress report which the student must fill out and submit because I believe that this will give the student more accountability for their progress.

Which ALEKS course product(s) have you used in the past?
Beginning Algebra, Intermediate Algebra

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
Use all the tools in ALEKS to provide a structured environment for the student with regular supervised feedback concerning their progress.