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.

Western New Mexico University, NM
4 Year University / Public

Scenario: I use ALEKS in a traditional course with a textbook.
Purpose: Core Curriculum
ALEKS Course: Beginning Algebra

Linda Beattie, Professor
My experience with ALEKS has been overwhelmingly positive and the students love it. I am able to give them more control of and responsibility for their learning which has been a benefit to most, and I am better able to address individual learning styles and needs. It's an excellent tool for enhancing learning and student motivation.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
Our students came in at different skill levels, didn't have enough practice, and there was a time lag for feedback on correctness.

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

Number of students who used ALEKS for the course and term:
Number of sections: 3
Number of students per ALEKS section: 20-24
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 65

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
I meet with students face to face four days per week. Traditional class days alternate with computer class days using ALEKS. ALEKS directs student learning and is integrated with a textbook. The grade is determined by 20 percent chapter completion (objectives), 30 percent final Comprehensive Assessment, 20 percent traditional homework and quizzes from the textbook, and 30 percent traditional paper tests in a class covering material emphasized during the traditional class periods. Attendance is mandatory for all sessions. During the traditional classes, I lecture on topics I observe students working on, as well as bring concepts together. During the ALEKS classes, I do individual intervention as students work in ALEKS and answer questions on material students have trouble with.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: 2 days per week
Hours per week: 4 hours per week
Hours per term: 45-60 hours per term


Implementation

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
Yes, I integrate the textbook with ALEKS, and set due dates for each chapter objective. Within each chapter, students choose the topic order.

How do you incorporate ALEKS homework assignments into your course?



How do you use ALEKS in conjunction with any other learning management systems, course management programs, etc.?
I did not use any other management tool.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
ALEKS is 50 percent of the grade (20 percent chapter completion and 30 percent final Comprehensive Assessment). The remaining grade is made up of 50 percent traditional class assignments (20 percent homework and quizzes from the text and 30 percent paper tests on material covered during lectures).

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
Students are expected to spend about two hours per week of class time in ALEKS. They also have occasional homework from the textbook. ALEKS homework is about 80 percent of the total homework load. 

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Yes. There are due dates for each chapter objective in ALEKS. These are easy to track in the ALEKS gradebook.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.



In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
The students are very encouraged when they see their progress on a continuous basis. They are also easily able to connect effort with results.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?



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

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
Even though ALEKS can be done independently, it is important for students to spend required lab time with the other class members and the instructor, especially at this level of Algebra. It is also important for the teacher to actively intervene when students have problems during class, and not just observe. Some students will ask for help when they are having difficulty, but many need to be actively approached and engaged.