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.

University of Wisconsin Colleges, WI
4 Year University / Public

Scenario: I use ALEKS in an online course without a textbook.
Purpose: Core Curriculum
ALEKS Course: College Algebra

Alexey Kryukov, Professor
Students achieve results way above their usual scores. ALEKS adds flexibility and an individual approach that works especially well with developmental math students. There is no hiding with ALEKS; students know that their hours spent in ALEKS are available for the instructor to see. There is no question that ALEKS helps previously failing students to succeed and at the same time allows stronger students to obtain solid knowledge and even to graduate earlier from the course.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
Students had very limited knowledge of basic math, resulting in very low success rates in Algebra courses.

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: Approximately 2-4
Number of students per ALEKS section: 15-30
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: Approximately 30-60

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
Class is one hour and fifteen minutes long. First, I answer questions about previous material, then explain new material from specific ALEKS topics. I give ALEKS quizzes based on topics covered in class. Students can retake quizzes an unlimited number of times, aiming for a perfect score. The learning objectives are specified so that after the quiz, students can achieve their learning goals. Some complete ALEKS in class, while others continue at home.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: 2
Hours per week: 6
Hours per term: 80

For the sections that do NOT use ALEKS during this specific term, what do they work on in place of ALEKS?
Use regular lecture style with homework.


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
ALEKS is the main tool. Lectures are based on ALEKS topics, followed by a quiz.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
Yes, we follow a sequence of ALEKS topics consistent with our curriculum. Students cover items in the Learning Mode so needed items open up in correlation with lectures.

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 daily throughout the term.

How do you incorporate ALEKS Quizzes into your course?
I give ALEKS quizzes based on topics covered in class. Students can retake quizzes an unlimited number of times, aiming for a perfect score.

How do you incorporate ALEKS homework assignments into your course?
Homework consists of retaking quizzes at home to gain a perfect score. Also, covering a certain number of topics per week is required.

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
All assessments are ALEKS assessments that I schedule.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
Significantly. Students work on their own, so I am able to use a more individual approach and help each student by answering their questions while they are working in class. I check the students' results online and address issues in class and during office hours.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
ALEKS reporting tools are essential in determining exactly what a particular student understands and the progress of the entire class. Depending on this, I either slow down or continue on to the next topic. It is essential to use ALEKS reports to adjust teaching: this is one of the great advantages of ALEKS.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
ALEKS makes up 100 percent of the final course grade. Quizzes account for ten percent; four assessments taken chronologically account for five percent, ten percent, 15 percent, and 20 percent; and the final exam accounts for 40 percent.

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

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Yes, students have a detailed syllabus with specific topics to be covered by a certain date throughout the course.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I look at the number of topics mastered per week along with ALEKS quizzes and test scores. 

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?
ABSOLUTELY. I stress the correlation between hours spent working in ALEKS and success rate. This becomes very obvious to students as I show them the correlation. I use previous statistics on the very first day of class to show students what they need to master the course.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
There is no question that ALEKS helps previously failing students to succeed and at the same time allows stronger students to obtain solid knowledge and even to graduate earlier from the course. We are working on a sequence of ALEKS courses where students can move to the next course level as soon as they complete their pie, possibly covering several courses in one semester.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
There is no hiding with ALEKS, students know that their hours spent in ALEKS are available for the instructor to see. I stress the correlation between hours spent working in ALEKS and success rate. This becomes very obvious to students as I show them the correlation. Students who are behind, but sincerely want to succeed, benefit most from ALEKS. Many students are afraid to ask the instructor for help, but feel very comfortable working with ALEKS. Several students achieved results way above their usual scores. The most outstanding is the case of a girl who spent 114 hours in ALEKS which resulted in a perfect score in the course.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
Those working in ALEKS feel very excited. Those who do not actually work in ALEKS, soon realize that they cannot trick ALEKS and pass the course.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
Allow ALEKS to do the main job. Just complement it by stressing the main points and use ALEKS reporting tools to create a more individualized approach.

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
We are working on a sequence of ALEKS courses where students can move to the next course level as soon as they complete their pie, possibly covering several courses in one semester.

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

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
Using quizzes after material is covered makes students listen. Do unlimited number of retakes on quizzes; students want to get 100 percent and will benefit by the practice. Also, adjust lectures to fit ALEKS.