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.

Iowa Lakes Community College, IA
2 Year Community College

Scenario: I use ALEKS in an online course without a textbook.
Purpose: Remediation, Online Course
ALEKS Course: Basic Math

Carol Ellerbusch, Instructor
My overall experience with ALEKS is very positive. I have used ALEKS several years now and receive very positive feedback from the students. I use ALEKS for our developmental math classes, and it is an excellent refresher for students since it is completely individualized to what each student needs to review.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
All of the students entering our college must take an assessment in reading, writing and math to see if they are at college level, before enrolling in college level classes. Many of the students need remediation in math.

Was ALEKS used in your course with all students or with targeted students?
All students.

Number of students who used ALEKS for the course and term:
Number of sections: 1
Number of students per ALEKS section: 12
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 12

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
The ALEKS Assessment is given in the learning center and the program is explained. The students work independently at home to complete their ALEKS work based on results from the initial assessment. The students are required to do a post-test in the learning center when ALEKS is completed.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: 5
Hours per week: 5
Hours per term: 30

For the sections that do NOT use ALEKS during this specific term, what do they work on in place of ALEKS?
The classroom and self-study students use workbooks.


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
I use ALEKS for math remediation. The goal of the course is to bring the student up to college level math. The initial assessment determines what areas the student needs to review. ALEKS is completely individualized, so each student completes their ALEKS program differently. 

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
Students are free to work through the lessons in any order, as long as the ALEKS program determines they are ready to learn the next lesson.

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 frequently throughout the term.

How do you incorporate ALEKS homework assignments into your course?
Students are free to complete worksheets in the ALEKS program for additional practice.

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
I use scheduled assessments to determine mid-term and final grades.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
ALEKS allows us to offer another option to the students in addition to the face-to-face classroom and self-study options already offered.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
The students' grade for the remedial math course does not count as college credit. Their grades are determined by the final ALEKS Assessment and their final exam given in the learning center.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
It is the students' responsibility to complete the ALEKS program in a six week time period. Whether they complete ALEKS homework is up to them.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I only require that students complete the ALEKS program during the six week course.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I follow the students' progress' almost daily using the Learning Progress Since Last Assessment Report. It is quick and easy to use, and I can see at a glance how much time the student has been working and how close they are to completion. I contact students individually who appear to need help.

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?
Yes, there is a direct correlation between how much time students spend in ALEKS and how well they perform on the post-test. However, this is not always true, since some students only need a quick review, and others need a complete review of all materials. We use post-test scores to determine if the students made progress.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
I attribute students' improved performance to the ALEKS methodology. They feel comfortable with the program and confident in what they have learned. Students like that they can review as much as they want until they understand it. Students report, "ALEKS encourages me, it doesn't make me feel stupid, and is great for anyone who struggles with math."  Another student said he is, "surprised at how much he learned and how good ALEKS was".


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
We give students a choice between doing the refresher course in a classroom, as a self-study with books, or the ALEKS program online. The students who select ALEKS have a high pass rate, have better retention than the self-study students, and are better prepared for their next math course. ALEKS gives a more complete review based on each student's needs than our previous math refresher course.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
Student feedback has been entirely positive. They indicate that the course is individualized to their needs and that they get a lot out of it.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
Getting ALEKS up and running, however, ALEKS Customer Support is helpful.

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
I will use quizzes and scheduled assessments at regular intervals to insure that students are making regular progress.

Which ALEKS course product(s) have you used in the past?
Basic Math, Pre-Algebra

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
Use the initial assessment to discuss with students what they already know and what they need to work on. I find students agree with the assessment and are willing to work on their weak areas.