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.

Saint Joseph's College, NY
4 Year Baccalaureate-Granting College / Private

Scenario: I use ALEKS in a traditional course with a textbook.
Purpose: Supplement, Preparation
ALEKS Course: Introduction to Statistics

Margherita T. Sexton, Senior Lecturer
Using ALEKS for the past four years, I find students do work at home that they would otherwise not do. Students agree that ALEKS offers good practice, helps them learn the material, and allows them to review material on their own at home. In my class using ALEKS, 55 percent of the class earned a B or better. In my class without ALEKS, 13 percent of the class earned a B or better. None of my students who completed all topics in ALEKS failed the course. I have found that for every additional 10 percent added to the ALEKS progress bar, I can expect about three points to be added to the class average.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
With no prerequisite for the Introduction to Probability and Statistics course, students enter with various backgrounds, some ready for statistics and some ill-prepared with a poor math background.

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: 1
Number of students per ALEKS section: 11
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 11

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
All work in ALEKS is done by the students on their own, either at home or in the lab on campus. I do not use ALEKS in my classroom except to explain the differences in notation between ALEKS and the textbook. Students set up extra study sessions with me when they have problems.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: Approximately 3-5
Hours per week: 3
Hours per term: 32


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
I create eight ALEKS quizzes, one for each chapter in the text to count as a homework grade. I also give three in-class, non-ALEKS exams.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
I select the topics that I want to include in ALEKS. I start with Graphing, followed by Descriptive Statistics, Probability, Distributions, Confidence Intervals, Hypothesis Testing, and Simple Linear Regression.

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?
I create homework from ALEKS quizzes.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
I am able to search for more exciting ways to teach the material and engage the students in the learning process because I do not have all the hours of grading to do anymore.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I use reports on student progress in the Learning Mode daily, as well as the homework report feature. If I see that several students are having a problem with a particular topic in ALEKS, I go back to that topic and spend more time on it. I use both the textbook notation and ALEKS' notation because sometimes they differ.

How do you use ALEKS in conjunction with any other learning management systems, course management programs, etc.?
I enter the ALEKS homework grades and ALEKS progress bar percent in the gradebook feature of Blackboard. At the end of the semester, the ALEKS progress bar counts as 14 percent of the final grade and the eight ALEKS homeworks count as 16 percent of the final grade.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
Eight ALEKS homeworks equal 16 percent of the final grade and ALEKS progress bar equals 14 percent of the final grade.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
ALEKS is assigned to students as their entire homework grade, although I also suggest textbook problems for the students to work on, which we go over in class.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I regularly remind students to check what percent of ALEKS they should be up to, and not to fall behind. I explain to them that if there are 64 topics in ALEKS and eight topics are necessary for the first homework, then the progress bar should be up to 8/64 or 12.5 percent.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I check ALEKS daily to see the students' progress in the Learning Mode, progress bar, and homework.

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?
Absolutely! For every additional 10 percent added to the ALEKS progress bar, I can expect approximately three points added to the class average.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
With ALEKS required as part of the students' grade, they are doing the necessary homework required to succeed, and the more homework the students do in a math class, the better their performance.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
In my class using ALEKS, 55 percent of the class earned a B or better. In my class without ALEKS, 13 percent of the class earned a B or better. None of my students who completed all topics in ALEKS failed the course. I have found that for every additional 10 percent added to the ALEKS progress bar, I can expect about three points to be added to the class average. I find that almost all of my students from both schools come in needing remedial work in Arithmetic and Algebra.  With ALEKS, they receive this remediation before beginning their work in Statistics. Without ALEKS, they always seem to be behind.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
Students agree that ALEKS offers good practice, helps them learn the material, and allows them to review material on their own at home.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
Initially I did not count the ALEKS progress bar as part of the final grade and found that students didn't do as much work in ALEKS. Now that ALEKS is required as part of the final grade, more students complete 100 percent of their pie. Nine out of my eleven students completed the ALEKS progress bar, and the only two students to fail the course were those who did not complete their work in ALEKS.

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
Each semester, I tell my incoming students about the ALEKS success stories of previous semesters and, I think because I am enthusiastic about ALEKS, they are too.

Which ALEKS course product(s) have you used in the past?
Introduction to Statistics

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
Stress to your students that they must log on to ALEKS at the very beginning of the semester. The longer they wait, the more catching up they will have to do and sometimes they just never do catch up because they waited too long to begin ALEKS.

Additional Insights:
When grading the ALEKS homework or quizzes, students must be told that ALEKS doesn't give partial credit. I will not look for partial credit for them, but that if they ask me, I will gladly regrade an ALEKS quiz or homework.