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.

The University of Texas at El Paso, TX
4 Year Baccalaureate-Granting College / Public

Scenario: Other.
Purpose: Core Curriculum, Emporium Model
ALEKS Course: Intermediate Algebra

Denise Lujan, Director of Developmental Math
ALEKS is one of the best pieces of technology that I have ever used. I do not ever worry about what ALEKS is doing, so I’m free to focus all my attention on the process of using ALEKS in a classroom setting and having students be successful.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
The biggest challenge was faculty buy-in. Once we had all the faculty using ALEKS and learning how to function in this new setting, they came around.

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: 30
Number of students per ALEKS section: 23
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 800

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
We use a blended emporium model.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Hours per week: 8 (3 of which are in class)


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
Students are required to attend class and will be dropped from the roster if they don’t. They must reach 90% completion of their pie and pass a comprehensive final on ALEKS with a 70% of higher. They do all their work online. We use ALEKS in its true setting with no interim objectives and no textbook. There are three benchmarks that the students must achieve during the semester with notifications going to the students that miss a benchmark.

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 use the Instructor Module frequently throughout the term.

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
We let ALEKS give assessments as the system determines. The only assessment we force is the comprehensive final.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
I use mini-lectures, one-on-one tutoring, and coaching and mentoring. We also designed a student notebook for the students to use.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I use the Time and Topic Report and the Progress Report on a weekly basis. They are the starting point for discussions with my students.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
It counts as a complete or incomplete. Students must finish 90% of the pie and must pass a comprehensive final exam on ALEKS with a 70% or higher.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
All.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Yes. We have three benchmarks throughout the semester. If students miss one of the benchmarks, they will get a warning. If they miss two benchmarks, they are dropped from the class.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I use the Time and Topic Report, and the full Progress Report.

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?
Yes, 100% yes!

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
I think it is a combination of the ALEKS methodology and the one-on-one mentoring, coaching, and generally getting to know my students better.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
I have been running a summer bridge program for 5 years. The data is amazing. Students that use ALEKS and complete our program pass their Precalculus class at a rate above 90%. It’s impressive. Also, students that have gone through our program are persisting towards their degrees. As of Fall 2010, 69% of our 2008 students were still attending the university, and 77% of our 2009 students were still attending.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
We conduct a survey each semester and each summer. Students love ALEKS. The best features are the explanations, the fact that it is online, and the freedom students have to move at their own pace.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
We struggled with faculty resistance. 

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
I will allow students to make up missed hours in class during open lab time. We are implementing a new student notebook that students will have to use in class, as well. This will organize their work and, since there are pages for assessments, it will give us a chance to go over the assessments with the students to show them what they missed and why.

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
Set requirements, document everything, and be firm. If you don’t have a very detailed process with consequences, students won’t do the work.