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.

Sierra College, CA
2 Year Community College

Scenario: I use ALEKS in a hybrid course that meets both online and on-campus in a computer classroom, without a textbook.
Purpose: Core Curriculum
ALEKS Course: College Algebra

Donna M. Latham, Professor
I absolutely love ALEKS. Compared to students taking College Algebra using the traditional lecture course format, my students' success rate and retention rate are significantly higher. The final exam in my course is also significantly more difficult. I know that the students would not have the same level of proficiency and understanding of the course topics if it were not for the ALEKS assessment features.


Scenario

Was ALEKS used in your course with all students or with targeted students?
ALEKS is used with all students.

Number of students who used ALEKS for the course and term:
Number of sections: 2
Number of students per ALEKS section: 35
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 70

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
There are no lectures. After the completion of ALEKS chapters, an exam is given. Some exams are cumulative while others are primarily on one specific chapter.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: 2
Hours per week: 8-12
Hours per term: 120

For the sections that do NOT use ALEKS during this specific term, what do they work on in place of ALEKS?
Students follow the traditional lecture format.


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
ALEKS is integrated with a textbook to set up Intermediate Objectives based on chapters. Students receive points for meeting the ten chapter deadlines and are also given points for each objective completed. Students are given three exams, each worth 100 points, and a cumulative final exam worth 200 points. Next semester I plan to utilize the ALEKS quiz or homework feature, which will be worth 100-200 points.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
The ALEKS topics are covered in a particular order so that students can complete the topics before each exam. Those students who complete the objectives early can also take the exams early.

Do you integrate a textbook with your course using ALEKS Textbook Integration? Please describe how you set up your chapter completion dates.
Yes. This makes supplementary resources available to the students. I determine chapter deadlines by the number of ALEKS objectives and types of objectives associated with each chapter.

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
I have random assessments because some students go through the course quicker than others and may only get assessed once before they are done with the course material.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
I plan to make movies available to my students that show me working through problems in ALEKS and capture the ALEKS screen. 

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
The ALEKS report feature allows me to see which exam topics are more difficult for students, and therefore which movies are most needed.

How do you use ALEKS in conjunction with any other learning management systems, course management programs, etc.?
I use ALEKS in my grade program called MicroGrade. I import the ALEKS excel reports and ALEKS objectives completed from the pie report into the grade program.    


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
ALEKS comprises 100 percent of the 750 total points available in the course with the following breakdown: ALEKS deadline points comprise 65 points; ALEKS objectives completed comprise 185 points; three  ALEKS exams comprise 300 points; and the ALEKS final exam comprises 200 points.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
ALEKS objectives are assigned as homework and comprise 24.7 percent of the students' total grade.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Students are required to meet the ALEKS Intermediate Objectives deadline.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I print the ALEKS Intermediate Objectives report located in the pie 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 and no. If a student spent more time in ALEKS they still may have gotten a B in the course since they may not have been as prepared for the course. However, there is a minimum number of hours needed to guarantee success. For example, if a student spent less than 120 hours in ALEKS, there was a high indication that she would not finish all of the objectives.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
I know that the students would not have the same level of proficiency and understanding of the course topics if it were not for the ALEKS assessment features.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
Compared to students taking College Algebra using the traditional lecture course format, my students' success rate and retention rate are significantly higher. The final exam in my course is  also significantly more difficult.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
The students agree that ALEKS is the platform to use when learning the course material.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
I think the biggest challenge is warning students about the assessments and having them "buy in" to the process. Once they see that assessments are used to help them to truly understand the problems rather than a "bunch" of steps to memorize, they see the value. 

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
I will add ALEKS homework and quizzes.

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

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
I believe the deadline points tied to ALEKS intermediate objectives are a strong motivator for students to stay on task and prepared for the exams.

Additional Insights:
I love the new ALEKS Instructor Module Interface.