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.

Knox College, IL
4 Year Baccalaureate-Granting College / Private

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

Mary Jane Shroyer, Instructor
Students really like ALEKS; they feel it is a low stress, non-confrontational way to learn math. Using ALEKS, I am able to see when topics are causing difficulty for most of the class and then work with the whole group on those items. ALEKS Customer Support is excellent.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
Students who do not have the necessary math preparation for calculus or statistics have a high rate of attrition from those courses.

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: 22
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 22

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
ALEKS is used as the primary teaching tool. The instructor and teaching aide give one-on-one assistance on problematic topics. A large group lecture is given every 2-3 weeks when sufficient numbers of students are working on the same topics or to introduce troublesome topics.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Hours per week: 5
Hours per term: 50


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
Students take an initial assessment on the first day of class and then work in a self-directed fashion on the ALEKS topics yet to be mastered. I select topics from the ALEKS pie to correspond with the curriculum.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
No, students are allowed to select the order they wish to work on topics.

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS homework assignments into your course?
Students must complete weekly hours in ALEKS and complete ALEKS Worksheets.

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
ALEKS scheduled assessments are counted as the mid-term and final exam.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
The course is self-paced and individualized. Each student is allowed to work on topics they need to study most. The instructor sets guidelines for the amount of material students should be covering each week. I work mainly one-on-one with students so I can focus on their particular difficulties. Using ALEKS, I am able to see when topics are causing difficulty for most of the class and then work with the whole group on those items.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I use Detailed Progress Reports to determine which students are ready to learn particular topics and to plan lecture topics. I use Individual Student Progress Reports to focus on students who are falling behind in learning and need more individual attention.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
ALEKS makes up 100 percent of the final course grade; 75 percent is awarded for mastery of ALEKS topics, 10 percent for ALEKS Worksheets, 10 percent for time logged, and 5 percent for attendance, participation, and quizzes.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
Weekly hours on ALEKS are the homework component of the course.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Yes. Students are required to complete ten percent of the topics per week during the ten week term. Scheduled assessments at mid-terms and finals are graded based on percentage of pie completed.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I use the Detailed Progress Report weekly to view total time worked, to track student learning, and to identify students who are struggling or falling behind. I use the Average Class Mastery pie to help determine lecture topics for the whole class and the individual student pies to work with students one-on-one. I love the new assessment report and use it heavily.

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. The scores are directly correlated with the amount of time worked on ALEKS. However, there are one or two students who perform very well even though they put in less than half the time required. and others who put in one and a half to two times the required time and still struggle to complete the topics.


Learning Outcomes

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
Most students really enjoy ALEKS. They feel it is a low stress, non-confrontational way to learn math. Students like to follow their progress in the course objectives through the student interface.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
To customize the ALEKS syllabus to incorporate all the topics our curriculum committee required and eliminate topics that were not necessary was difficult. ALEKS Customer Support is excellent.

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
Using Intermediate Objectives is useful so I can do more one-on-one help and less lecturing. The enrollment is increasing each term.

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

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
Encourage students to work consistently and regularly through the term by requiring time spent on ALEKS and weekly topic completions. Help students succeed and eliminate students' last minute cramming before deadlines.