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.

Lansing Community College, MI
2 Year Community College

Scenario: I use ALEKS in a traditional course with a textbook.
Purpose: Core Curriculum, Remediation
ALEKS Course: Basic Math

Nicole Lloyd, Professor
I have had positive experiences with ALEKS. Students really like working with ALEKS; they can see the progress they are making as their pies fill.  Mathematically, students gain confidence in their ability to do mathematics with ALEKS.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
My institution did not have any effective way of helping students who did not place into lower math courses. Students in this category often do not have the financial means to enroll in a review course so we struggle with offering affordable options.

Was ALEKS used in your course with all students or with targeted students?
ALEKS is used with targeted students. They are selected because they are a part of the High School Diploma Completion Program offered by my college and did not place into the lowest level of developmental math courses offered.

Number of students who used ALEKS for the course and term:
Number of sections: 1
Number of students per ALEKS section: 10
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 10

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
One day consists of a lab and individual textbook homework. The second day is half lab and half lecture.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: 2
Hours per week: 4
Hours per term: 64

For the sections that do NOT use ALEKS during this specific term, what do they work on in place of ALEKS?
Students work individually on problems out of a textbook; there is no class or instructor assistance with this. Students are allowed to go to tutoring services for help if needed.


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
I use the program with students who are in our High School Diploma Completion program who do not place into our lowest level developmental course. The class size is small, so the individual nature of ALEKS, along with individualized instruction offer great benefits to students. I combine ALEKS with lecture once a week on basic topics and homework from a  basic math textbook. The combination of these resources work together to offer a great deal of support to students.

Do you integrate a textbook with your course using ALEKS Textbook Integration? Please describe how you set up your chapter completion dates.
Yes, I make the textbook available as a resource but do not use completion dates.

How often do you use the ALEKS Instructor Module?
I use the Instructor Module frequently throughout the term.

How do you incorporate ALEKS Quizzes into your course?
Approximately every two weeks I assign a quiz on topics that we covered in lecture.

How do you incorporate ALEKS homework assignments into your course?
I print off weekly individual assignments for each student to go along with a general textbook assignment.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
I added a computer lab.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I look to see what percentage of the students have mastered each topic and determine what topics need to be addressed in class.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
Progress in ALEKS makes up 50 percent of the course, while attendance and homework make up the rest.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
ALEKS worksheets are part of the homework responsibilities; combined with a general textbook assignment, worksheets make up 25 percent of the grade.

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

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I use the students' individual pie charts and progress reports to view progress since the last assessment.

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.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
I attribute improved student performance to ALEKS, attendance, small class size, and the self-paced nature of the course.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
Ten students enrolled. Of those ten, eight came to class regularly and logged about four hours a week in ALEKS. At the end of the semester, eight students took the ACCUPLACER test for a second time. Five of the eight placed into one of the offered developmental math courses, and two of the five students skipped the lowest level developmental course and placed directly into Introductory Algebra. The three students who did not place raised their scores significantly, approximately 10-15 points on the ACCUPLACER test. The two students who did not attend class regularly showed some growth.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
Students really like working with ALEKS; they can see the progress they are making as their pies fill.  Mathematically, students gain confidence in their ability to do mathematics with ALEKS.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
I was unaware ALEKS automatically assesses students periodically. I will explore the resources that come with linking a textbook to ALEKS.

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
I will use QuickTables more Textbook Integration more.

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?
I would suggest that instructors require students to do QuickTables every time they log in. At the level I used it, this was vital. Also, if you are using a text, encourage and demonstrate to students the resources that are available in ALEKS.