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 -- Waukesha, WI
2 Year Community College

Scenario: I use ALEKS in a traditional course without a textbook.
Purpose: Core Curriculum

Kurt R. Vanderhoef, Associate Lecturer
Overall, the success rates in ALEKS based courses is about 15 percent higher than in traditional non-ALEKS courses.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
Our students enter college without high school Geometry experience, and to attempt to teach two semesters of high school Geometry in one semester of college, is a great challenge.

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: 25
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 25

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
The course consists of two 75 minute lectures per week.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: 5
Hours per week: 5
Hours per term: 80


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
Before implementing ALEKS, I test the objectives for the particular course, and then compare them to my college's expected outcomes. After this consultation, I choose which topics to focus on in ALEKS, as well as those topics that need to be removed.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
I cover ALEKS topics in the order that they are presented within the Instructor Module.

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 homework assignments into your course?
I assign one homework assignment per week. My students must achieve 80 percent in order to pass the assignment.

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
I schedule an exam every four weeks in addition to the final exam. I allow my students two chances to take the final exam, and use their best score as their final exam score.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
Because of ALEKS, my teaching is more objective focused, and I tend to try to group similar topics together when instructing. I also make sure to point out where students can find topics in the ALEKS pie.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I focus on those topics that students are struggling with and review them.

How do you use ALEKS in conjunction with any other learning management systems, course management programs, etc.?
I transfer information from ALEKS over to Desire2Learn (D2L) for grading.


Grading

What percent of a student's grade does ALEKS make up?
ALEKS makes up 91 percent of my students' final grade.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
My students must complete five exams, including the final, which are worth three percent, ten percent, 15 percent, and 35 percent respectively. In addition, homework quizzes are worth 14 percent, progress checks are worth 14 percent, and attendance quizzes are worth nine percent. I also administer a basic skills exam that they must pass to earn course credit.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
ALEKS is 95 percent of the students' homework load.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Students must stay within 80 percent of course the target. For instance, if I am at 100 topics they must know 80.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I monitor each student individually to track progress in order to enter it into D2L for grading.

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?
Students who work at least the recommended 80 hours in a semester always earn a B or better.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
Improved student performance is mainly due to ALEKS, partly because of the effective repetition in the Learning Mode.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
Overall, the success rates in ALEKS-based courses is about 15 percent higher than in traditional non-ALEKS courses. My ALEKS Geometry students fare about the same as traditional lecture courses.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
My main pitfall was attempting to address too many topics in one semester.

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
I would like to possibly form a committee to get feedback on which topics to include in the course.

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

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
Use ALEKS to enhance your instruction. I also believe that reasonable goals need to be set and re-evaluated to determine which topics are unnecessary at the end of the semester.