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.

Abilene Christian University, TX
4 Year University / Private

Scenario: Students work online in and out of class. They are required to attend class with instructor and peer tutor input three times each week at a regularly scheduled time.
Purpose: Core Curriculum
ALEKS Course: Pre-Algebra

Julie McQueen, Instructor
This is the fifth year we have used ALEKS for all math remediation courses. I have been very pleased with its ability to determine the gaps in student learning and provide students with an efficient way to fill the missing knowledge. I am pleasantly surprised how positive my students feel toward ALEKS, especially my non-traditional students. ALEKS is less threatening than traditional math tests and seems to make students feel more confident in their math abilities. 74 percent of all students who used ALEKS in the course passed during the first semester and almost half of these students finished the course early. These pass rates are much better than what we experienced in a traditional course; students are able to move successfully and quickly into their next college level math course


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
My school faced opposition from parents and students being upset that they have to pay for up to three remedial math courses before they can take the math course that counts for their degree. The "new" course now remediates students in preparation for one of five different math courses.

Number of students who used ALEKS for the course and term:
Number of sections: 4
Number of students per ALEKS section: 22
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 77

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: 3
Hours per week: 3
Hours per term: 75


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
I carefully review the objectives that the math instructors want students to master before attending their college level math courses. Then I choose the ALEKS course for the students that best fits those objectives.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
No. Students choose what ALEKS topics they are ready to learn. I teach my mini-lessons based on what most students are ready to learn next and/or topics I know would cause more difficulty.

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 Quizzes into your course?
I use the ALEKS quiz feature to create my final exam so I can test the students on specific objectives that I choose. Students have to score at least 95 percent on a comprehensive test in order to be eligible to take the final exam early. The remaining students have one opportunity to pass the final at the end of the semester.

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
I schedule in-class ALEKS comprehensive assessments every three weeks in order to encourage students to record, review, and complete their own work. I prefer all the assessments to be comprehensive.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
I use more one-on-one instruction as needed by students. ALEKS replaces the lecture and group activities I used in my previous traditional classrooms.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
The subject of my mini-lessons are determined by looking at percentages of students who are ready to learn certain topics. I use the ALEKS average pie chart and the lists of objectives included in that report.

How do you use ALEKS in conjunction with any other learning management systems, course management programs, etc.?
I download the information from the ALEKS reports into an Excel file. I then modify the information and provide it to instructors to help students be successful in college. I also provide benchmark goal information to students via MicroGrade.


Grading

What percent of a student's grade does ALEKS make up?
Students must pass the final exam in ALEKS with at least 70 percent in order to pass the course. The probability of achieving this rises dramatically when students have finished their ALEKS Pie charts.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
I schedule benchmark goal deadlines for the minimum amount of hours, progress, and scores on ALEKS comprehensive assessments to help students pace themselves to complete the course during the semester.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
ALEKS is considered homework that must be completed to be eligible to take the final exam.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Yes. Students are expected to work at least ten hours every two weeks and progress anywhere from 4 percent to 15 percent every two weeks. After two weeks, students are expected to score at least 45 percent on the most recent progress assessment. Two weeks later, they need to score at least 60 percent to be on track to finish the course.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I constantly use ALEKS progress reports to create reports for other instructors and myself. I prefer to use the reports that show complete progress.

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! I completed a study one semester to review passing rates for students who worked in ALEKS more than other students, and I identified a definite correlation between passing rates and use of ALEKS.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
Students only have to work on the areas where they need help. They don't have to sit through a whole semester when they don't need to. They appreciate being able to finish early by working diligently. As mentioned earlier, I think ALEKS is less threatening for the math phobic student than a traditional classroom.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
74 percent of all students who used ALEKS in the course passed during the first semester and almost half of these students finished the course early. If you exclude students who quit attending class for various reasons, the passing rate increases to 89.1 percent. These pass rates are much better than what we experienced in a traditional course; students are able to move successfully and quickly into their next college level math course. In general, students who complete this course in one semester are successful in their college level math course. Those who take more than one semester to complete the ALEKS course, usually end up repeating their college level math course, too.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
I am pleasantly surprised how positive my students feel toward ALEKS, especially my non-traditional students. ALEKS is less threatening than traditional math tests and seems to make students feel more confident in their math abilities.


Best Practices

Which ALEKS course product(s) have you used in the past?
Pre-Algebra