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.

International Academy of Design & Technology, WA
4 Year Baccalaureate-Granting College / Private

Scenario: I use ALEKS in a hybrid course.
Purpose: Supplement, Emporium Model
ALEKS Course: Basic Math

Jody Laflen, Program Chair, General Education
ALEKS is a revolutionary program - we love it! This program allows students who enroll in our open-enrollment school with sub-high school math placement scores, to learn math in a fun and interactive way. Our students study art and design, so the interactive and broad array of learning styles in ALEKS make this program engaging for our students and effectively has prepared a number of our students to take and pass our college-level Algebra requirement needed to complete an Associate's or Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. I wish ALEKS had existed when I was in school!


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
Students come to us without any sufficient basic math skills,; one student could not calculate the number of inches in a foot! These students had either underperformed in high school math or had not taken math in a very long time. Students were anxious and nervous about taking math.

Was ALEKS used in your course with all students or with targeted students?
Students are selected when they fail their math course and tried to appeal out of retaking the class. Once we identify the anxiety factor and the placement levels of these students, we give them one quarter in which to take ALEKS with a supervising tutor, and to report their pie chart progress weekly.

Number of students who used ALEKS for the course and term:
Number of sections: 1
Number of students per ALEKS section: 2
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 2

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
Students meet twice a week to work with a tutor on their textbook lessons, then work for two to three hours on ALEKS in the lab. They report their progress every Friday and complete the program in eight to ten weeks.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: 2
Hours per week: 8
Hours per term: 88


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
ALEKS completion is essential for students to pass their college-level math requirement. We use ALEKS as a teaching and assessment tool that enables developmental math instructors to determine student progress and to move them through two levels of developmental math, up to college-level math.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
No, students are allowed to progress through their pie charts as they want.

Do you integrate a textbook with your course using ALEKS Textbook Integration? Please describe how you set up your chapter completion dates.
Yes.

How often do you use the ALEKS Instructor Module?
I never use the Instructor Module.

How do you incorporate ALEKS Quizzes into your course?
Students have to complete ALEKS quizzes in order to show progress in their pie charts. If progress does not add up to 80 percent or higher, the student has to retake the ALEKS program before being able to take their college-level math requirement.

How do you incorporate ALEKS homework assignments into your course?
ALEKS is the homework; students have to complete each unit to satisfactory percentiles in order to move on.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
ALEKS is well-received and effective in preparing students for higher levels of math, and reshaping their attitudes and fears when approaching a math requirement. ALEKS is an interactive tool for our developmental math students. Students who complete ALEKS show more confidence in their ability to do mathematical work effectively and they enjoy the experience more than they had enjoyed any math course in the past.


Grading

What percent of a student's grade does ALEKS make up?
40-50 percent.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
ALEKS assignments and quizzes are used to track the students' progress throughout the course. However, their final ALEKS score is averaged with an ACCUPLACER placement taken at the end of the term to determine whether the student is prepared to move to the next level of math.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
ALEKS homework counts for 25-30 percent of the total course load.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Yes, students must show C or higher averages for all pie pieces in order to take their final ACCUPLACER placement and move forward.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I use assessment reports and pie chart percentiles. I like how the pie chart dictates when a student needs to go back and review a unit they had previously mastered.

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?
Definitely, all students who take and finish ALEKS pass their following math class with a B- or higher.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
ALEKS is a revolutionary program - we love it! When students have had negative experiences with math in the past, they tend to fear math classes in general. ALEKS allows students to feel like they aren't on the spot, and gives them flexible room to move at their own pace. ALEKS caters to diverse learning styles by providing kinesthetic, interactive, and video lecture instruction. The fun approach of ALEKS makes students feel like they aren't doing schoolwork at all, and the online environment allows students who work full-time or who have families to complete their assignments in their own time.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
All students who completed the Basic Math course in ALEKS improved from less than 10 percent in their pie charts to 88 percent in their pie charts. They all went into college math courses and all earned B grades or higher due to their preparation in ALEKS.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
I received very positive feedback from the students using ALEKS. Using their feedback, progress, and scores, I encouraged our parent company to implement ALEKS as the supplement for all campus developmental math courses.  All 12 of our physical campuses and our online program will offer ALEKS as a required component for the MATH098 and MATH099 courses.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
It was difficult to get the administration on our campus to back the ALEKS implementation. I had to push to use ALEKS in our Learning Center program.

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
I will have all developmental math instructors take ALEKS training in order to maximize its use.

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?
Even if you simply use ALEKS as a tutorial program for students who need extra help - it works!