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.

Fresno City College, CA
2 Year Community College

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

Tiffany Friesen, Instructor
Students love ALEKS; 100 percent of students who complete the pie get a B or better. ALEKS prepares students very well. I use ALEKS heavily for the first six weeks in my Elementary Math Education course to test basic skills of those wishing to become teachers. I also use ALEKS with a Beginning Algebra course integrated with a textbook and refer students privately to use ALEKS as preparatory review. ALEKS is fantastic.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
Students have a 50 percent retention average and about a 50 percent pass rate. Many students skimp on their homework and do not plan enough time to do it correctly.

Was ALEKS used in your course with all students or with targeted students?
32 students out of 37 chose to use ALEKS.

Number of students who used ALEKS for the course and term:
Number of sections: 1
Number of students per ALEKS section: 32
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 32

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
I lecture and do classroom activities related for particular sections of the textbook. I make the ALEKS Intermediate Objectives relate to the current chapter and set the deadline for midnight before test day. I lay out all the chapter objectives at the beginning of the course so that students can see which objectives we have done and which objectives are yet to come; this helps students to choose which topics to choose that night for homework.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: 5
Hours per week: 15
Hours per term: 135

For the sections that do NOT use ALEKS during this specific term, what do they work on in place of ALEKS?
These sections completed homework from the textbook.


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
Two sessions are devoted to describe and set up ALEKS with students. I present material in class from the textbook and do class activities to practice concepts. I assign ALEKS as homework.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
In the order recommended out by the Beginning and Intermediate Algebra text.

Do you integrate a textbook with your course using ALEKS Textbook Integration? Please describe how you set up your chapter completion dates.
Yes, the 18 week course is being done in nine weeks, so it is twice as fast. I lecture on two sections per day and it takes about one week to cover a chapter. I make the chapter completion dates set for the night before test day. On test day, the next chapter becomes available.

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS homework assignments into your course?
I do not use these; they seem to defeat the point of ALEKS if I give everyone the same assignment.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
I spend more time on email responding to questions. Otherwise, I do the same amount of explanation and classroom activities as before. 

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I review the topics that are the weakest for the class as a whole. We spend more time doing class activities on these topics. I also encourage my Supplemental Instruction Aide to focus more on these topics when conducting study sessions.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
ALEKS is 15 percent of the overall grade; tests are 50 percent, class notes are 15 percent, and the final is 20 percent.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
ALEKS is 100 percent of the students' homework responsibilities.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I require students to meet the Intermediate Objective on time.

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?
Not always. Some students are weaker in the subject and spend 20 hours per week on ALEKS, while others have been able to get by on only four hours.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
Yes.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
100 percent of students who complete the pie get a B or better. 


Best Practices

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

I recommend first time instructors use ALEKS from the student's perspective implementing in their course.



What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
Be EXTRA strict about getting the tutorial and the initial assessment done before starting a "class as usual" approach. Students did not believe that it would take them as long as it did.  I also need to learn more about the assessment upon completion of Intermediate Objectives.

Which ALEKS course product(s) have you used in the past?
Basic Math, Pre-Algebra, Beginning Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, College Algebra with Trigonometry

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
Check on students' progress daily. Send emails to those who finish early and send a reminder email two days before the completion deadline of an Intermediate Objective.