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.

Maastricht University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Netherlands
4 Year University / Public

Scenario: I use ALEKS in a traditional course with a textbook.
Purpose: Supplement, Extra Credit
ALEKS Course: Business Statistics

Dirk Tempelaar, Professor
We use ALEKS as the main learning tool in preparatory mathematics courses, as both an online summer course, and as the tool that replaces traditional practicals in our Introductory Business Statistics course. Our program is very international in nature; prior schooling of our students is very heterogeneous. In the past, we had practical sessions which were identical for all students. By adopting ALEKS, we are now able to differentiate the study of statistics to the individual needs of our students, some of which have rather advanced schooling in statistics, while others lack any prior schooling in statistics.


Scenario

Was ALEKS used in your course with all students or with targeted students?
ALEKS is used with all Business Statistics students. ALEKS is also used for College Algebra as a summer course. It is aimed at the mathematically less well-prepared students. All students are invited to take part in a diagnostic test, and based on the outcome of that test, students are (more or less) strongly advised to participate in the optional summer course.

Number of students who used ALEKS for the course and term:
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: Business Statistics = approximately 900. College Algebra = approximately 150.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Hours per week: 1-2 hours
Hours per term: 80


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
In our Business Statistics course, we had a system where students could receive partial credits (bonus points) for doing homework assignments. This system was very labor intensive, and at risk for plagiarism. Therefore, I replaced the system in 2003 with ALEKS quizzes that students take in class, allowing them to achieve the same amount of bonus points. Students work in ALEKS mostly outside of class; we do have lab sessions, but spend most of that time in teaching Excel and statistical analysis in Excel. Three lab sessions are reserved for ALEKS quizzing. ALEKS practice is done in self-study time outside of class, which is feasible, since students do not need much support in working with ALEKS. In the College Algebra summer course, ALEKS 'is' the curriculum: beyond ALEKS, no other tools are used. 

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
For Business Statistics, we use a textbook and ALEKS textbook integration to ensure similar topic coverage. With this approach, we are able to cover nine chapters in seven weeks. For Business Statistics, we use a  textbook and ALEKS textbook integration to ensure similar topic coverage. With this approach, we are able to cover nine chapters in seven weeks.

Do you integrate a textbook with your course using ALEKS Textbook Integration? Please describe how you set up your chapter completion dates.
For Business Statistics, we integrate a textbook and cover nine chapters in seven weeks. Students are informed which ALEKS topics are included in the ALEKS quizzes.

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS Quizzes into your course?
Quizzes are used for bonus points. The goal for students is to complete as many ALEKS topics as possible and the award (no credits) they receive is determined by their mastery of the pie.

How do you incorporate ALEKS homework assignments into your course?
Students know that completing the assignments is the best preparation for them to be successful in the quizzes, so homework responsibility is left to them.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
We have two very explicit instructional goals, conceptual mastery and computational mastery. The ALEKS part of the course brings the students the computational skills we find important. The clever design of ALEKS does not need support from lectures or tutorial sessions. Conceptual mastery is covered in lectures and tutorial group sessions.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I use progress data to inform students about the adequacy of their quiz preparations. After quizzes, I use quiz report data to inform students about topics not effectively mastered, and discuss these topics in my overview lectures if lack of mastery is clear. 

How do you use ALEKS in conjunction with any other learning management systems, course management programs, etc.?
We use Blackboard as the main information management system. I post bonus points achieved in ALEKS quizzes as Excel files.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
The largest portion of our grading system is a final written exam. Students need a score of at least 27 out of 40 to pass the exam. If necessary to pass, students may add the bonus points that they earned on ALEKS quizzes to their final score.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
In the Business Statistics course, ALEKS is part of the homework and focuses on computational skills. In addition, there are homework assignments directed at conceptual skills that are discussed in tutorial sessions. The weights are about 1:2; one third of the time is spent on ALEKS practice and two-thirds  of the time is spent on other types of homework tasks.


Best Practices

Which ALEKS course product(s) have you used in the past?
College Algebra, Business Statistics