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.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Canada
4 Year Baccalaureate-Granting College / Public

Scenario: ALEKS is used for placement testing.
Purpose: Assessment
ALEKS Course: Basic Math

Caitlin Stiles, Assessment & Testing Coordinator
We use ALEKS for math vocational placement testing. We really like the ALEKS reports that show students a breakdown of how they performed on each section and also appreciate how students can log back into the system and review their answers after the exam. I notice that students who spend more time on the ALEKS Placement Exam tend to have a better success rate.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
Students are tested for their math levels in order for them to place into their appropriate trades/vocational programs at our university. Our trades programs have a very low entry level requirement, for example, one program requires students to achieve a 33 percent pass rate in order to be accepted into their program. We find that since the level of math is fairly similar to a grade 10 level, students know what to expect of the exam and are surprised when they learn that the pass rates are so low for some programs. However, we do have programs where the required pass rate can be 70 percent or higher.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: 1


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
We have a pass rate percentage for each trade program that a student is required to achieve on their math exam before they can get into their program. Depending on the program, these pass rates can range from 33 percent to 89 percent. If students do not successfully complete the exam or meet the pass rate requirement, they are then directed to our Academic and Career Placement department were an instructor will review the student's exam and provide further assistance and tutoring. Often, if students are very close to the required pass rate, the instructor will simply review the exam with the student and assist in areas of weakness. However, if the student needs a lot of improvement, ALEKS acts as a starting place for the instructor to assess what kind of assistance the student requires. We do suggest that students visit the ALEKS website before completing their placement exam so that they can become familiar with the program and do a practice exam.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
No.

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 never use the Instructor Module.


Grading

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
ALEKS is used only for placement into the correct trade/vocational program and therefore, is not part of the students' grade.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
No.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
No.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
We track the students' placement since each vocational program has a different entrance requirement. We keep track of how many students need improvement and how many students pass or fail their program after being placed by ALEKS.

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?
I have noticed that students who prepare and use ALEKS before completing the exam have a better success rate as they know what to expect and have studied before coming. We also find that students who are recently out of high school or even still in high school often do better than students who have been out of school for a while.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
ALEKS allows us to adapt and easily place students according to their programs. We also find that because some students apply for more than one program, ALEKS is easy to transfer and share the marks for more than one program.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
Students appreciate the detailed report that ALEKS provides so they can understand their areas of strength and weakness.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
The only challenge we faced was installing the ALEKS plug-in on our computers. We also had to compare ALEKS with a test that our math department had created and been using in the past.

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