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.

Spokane Community College, WA
2 Year Technical or Career College

Scenario: I use ALEKS in a traditional course without a textbook.
Purpose: Core Curriculum
ALEKS Course: Basic Math

David C. Edwards, Instructor
After implementing ALEKS in my math courses, I have seen a marked improvement in my students' learning. Students love ALEKS and my time is much better used now. Instead of shuffling papers and grading, I spend my time essentially tutoring each student one on one. ALEKS has been a huge benefit for improving the way students feel about their math confidence.


Scenario

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: 28
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 28

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
The students work independently on their pies, while I am available for individual questions.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: 4
Hours per week: 5
Hours per term: 55


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
Students are required to be in class and work on ALEKS. After completing the Basic Math pie, students are then able to continue on to higher math courses at their own speed. Many students learn much more than what is required for the class.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
No. Students choose the order in which they want to cover topics.

Do you integrate a textbook with your course using ALEKS Textbook Integration? Please describe how you set up your chapter completion dates.
No.

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?
For homework, students must work at their own pace to complete the ALEKS pie.

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
An ALEKS assessment is used for the final exam.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
Students are encouraged to work at their own pace. There are minimum requirements that need to be met, however, many students go above and beyond the requirements of the course.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I use the time logged feature in ALEKS to check the progress made by students. If a student is not progressing well through their pie, I offer individual help.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
ALEKS comprises 100 percent of the final grade with the following breakdown: 25 percent from attendance; 25 percent from time logged in ALEKS; 25 percent from completing the Basic Math pie; and 25 percent from the final exam.

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

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Students have to finish the pie by the end of the quarter. I tell them to figure out how far they need to go after their initial assessment and to divide that by ten. In each of ten weeks, students should progress that far to reach their goal.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I look at the amount of topics completed by each student and the number of topics they learn per hour.

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?
I am sold on ALEKS. Students who have hated math their whole lives now love math in this course.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
Slower students don't feel ashamed to ask questions and they get lots of individual help. If they don't understand something foundational, they can stick with it until they get it rather than being rushed to keep up with the herd. Furthermore, faster students can learn as much math as they want, in some cases, above and beyond the course requirement, and not get bogged down listening to things they already know.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
ALEKS improves student test scores.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
ALEKS has been a huge benefit for improving the way students feel about their math confidence.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
I discovered too late that ALEKS is available for purchase online and in the bookstore, which is very helpful for students who must purchase their materials in a certain way depending on their funding source.

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
I originally waited for students to ask me for help when they got stuck. However, I now initiate questions so the students are more comfortable with the program.

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

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
The best thing to do is remove the boredom and embarrassment from math. ALEKS gives the students the confidence needed to start learning and enjoying math.

Additional Insights:
Students love ALEKS and my time is much better used now. Instead of shuffling papers and grading, I spend my time essentially tutoring each student one on one.