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.

Ozarks Technical Community College, MO
2 Year Community College

Scenario: I use ALEKS in an online course with a textbook.
Purpose: Supplement
ALEKS Course: Intermediate Algebra

Daniel R. Kopsas, Instructor
We use ALEKS for our online math courses. The intention is for students to work problem sets from their textbook, and then they work through the same material in ALEKS to nail it down.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
The product we used in our online courses before did not closely align with our textbook. ALEKS gives us the ability to tie the program to the content of our specific textbook. The ALEKS topics are then arranged according to the chapters from our book. Furthermore, we can then choose which of those topics are relevant to our particular class. ALEKS now provides a nice tool for our students to learn their own strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, the instructor can see how students are doing.

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: 34
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 34

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
I encourage students to learn the content by watching video tutorials that I provide and by reading their textbook. Then I have students complete assigned problems from their textbook. Finally, I have them complete the corresponding material in ALEKS. They use the Learning Mode in ALEKS to master topics. Each chapter is an Intermediate Objective in ALEKS. I record their completion percentage for each chapter as a homework grade.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: As often as needed to master the topics.
Hours per week: As often as needed to master the topics.
Hours per term: As often as needed to master the topics.


Implementation

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
I cover the content in ALEKS in the order that we progress through our text.

Do you integrate a textbook with your course using ALEKS Textbook Integration? Please describe how you set up your chapter completion dates.
We use Blackboard. I simply provide a link to the ALEKS website. I copy completion grades from the ALEKS gradebook to my Blackboard gradebook.


Grading

What percent of a student's grade does ALEKS make up?
Homework accounts for 15 percent of a student's grade. The ALEKS Assignments probably make up about 1/5 of the 15 percent. So, ALEKS comprises approximately three percent of a student's grade.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
For each chapter in the textbook, I assign two or three textbook assignments and one ALEKS assignment (master the topics from the given chapter). I also assign a couple other miscellaneous homework assignments based on the needs of the class. All homework scores comprise 15 percent of a student's grade.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I did not place any requirement on a student's progress in ALEKS. A few of my students decided not to participate in ALEKS at all.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
The success rate (percentage of original number of enrolled students passing with a C or higher) for my past online classes has been about 20 percent. Currently, 35 percent of my students have a C or higher! We'll see how that number looks at the end of the semester.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
From what I have heard, the majority of students like ALEKS. They can find their weaknesses and work on them. They also like that each problem has its own explanation.


Best Practices

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



What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
I really like our implementation with ALEKS. I think ALEKS works as a great diagnostic tool. Have your students learn the material and practice. Then have them work through ALEKS and find their weaknesses.


Additional Insights:
I think it is important that students use ALEKS primarily in Learning Mode. Students have as many opportunities to learn a topic as they need.