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.

Anne Arundel Community College, MD
2 Year Community College

Scenario: I use ALEKS in a hybrid course.
Purpose: Supplement, Remediation
ALEKS Course: College Algebra

Nancy Chell, Assistant Professor
I implement ALEKS in three courses in a hybrid, distance learning class environment. I believe that ALEKS' artificial intelligence and adaptive assessment capabilities are the program's major strengths and competitive advantages. I have looked at many math technology products and am very in tune to the quality of content issues that face math instructors. When reviewing ALEKS content, I always have the feeling that a math instructor is writing the content, as compared to other products that seem as though textbook content was migrated to an online environment. ALEKS has allowed me to really focus my teaching to address critical issues that my students face. I feel comfortable that, even if I am not able to view every screen, I can trust that ALEKS content is correct and effective. My students find it motivating, positive, and I believe that math products like ALEKS can be leveraged to reach students who suffer from math anxiety.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
We found it difficult to properly assess student strengths and weaknesses, particularly with prerequisite content.

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: 17
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 17

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
My students are distance learners who work on ALEKS independently outside of our weekly class meeting.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Hours per term: 12

For the sections that do NOT use ALEKS during this specific term, what do they work on in place of ALEKS?
My class is a hybrid course design that incorporates multiple programs, and as such, all of my sections use ALEKS. However, when the students are not working with ALEKS, they do use MyMathLab.


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
After familiarizing myself with all of the ALEKS tools and features, I select topics in order to customize ALEKS as closely as possible with our curriculum. All students use ALEKS for an initial assessment, midterm assessment, and final assessment which results in approximately 12 hours per term. My main implementation of ALEKS is as an assessment tool. I believe that ALEKS' artificial intelligence and adaptive assessment are the program's major strengths and competitive advantages. I supplement the assessments with other programs and textbooks, as well as a journaling requirement so that my students evaluate each program and their experiences.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
No. Students are free to work on any part of their pie that they want to, according to their own learning needs.

Do you integrate a textbook with your course using ALEKS Textbook Integration? Please describe how you set up your chapter completion dates.
I did select the option to integrate ALEKS with the textbook we were using, which was helpful to students.

How often do you use the ALEKS Instructor Module?
I use the Instructor Module a few times throughout the term.

How do you incorporate ALEKS homework assignments into your course?
Although I assign handwritten homework outside of ALEKS, I use students' pie and assessment results to determine what type of homework problems or topics to assign.

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
My students are required to complete three scheduled assessments in my course.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
Implementing technology in a hybrid class environment was a challenge for me, but I do believe that when incorporated correctly, students are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
Since my students are primarily distance learners, my class meetings are more student-driven than traditional math lecture classes would be. I need to be very flexible. I ask students to print screens from ALEKS and bring their questions to class. I have found that students are more likely to ask questions about problems they cannot do when they are being graded by the course management system. Class meetings are much more lively. The students' work in ALEKS focuses my teaching to address the critical issues that were challenging them.

How do you use ALEKS in conjunction with any other learning management systems, course management programs, etc.?
I use ALEKS for general assessments and targeted practice in conjunction with ANGEL and MyMathLab If ALEKS would have been the only technology product, I know that students would have used it more.


Grading

What percent of a student's grade does ALEKS make up?
ALEKS makes up 10 percent of my students' total course grade.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
ALEKS makes up 10 percent of my students' total course grade which consists of four traditional tests and one ALEKS exam. Their total test grade accounts for 50 percent of their total course grade.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
ALEKS is not used as a homework tool in my course.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
No.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I focus specifically on student pie completion.

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?
Because my course is a hybrid environment that incorporates multiple programs, methods, and technologies, it is impossible to determine which product elicited better student performance.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
I definitely believe the assessment capability of ALEKS offers great potential for student success. ALEKS content is excellent, and as a teacher familiar with math technology, I can say that I trust the content in the program.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
My students keep a journal about their math experiences, and they seem to like ALEKS.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
My students were surprised to find out their specific weaknesses following the initial ALEKS assessment, but for those students who act on the information, ALEKS is motivating and positive. I really like the way that ALEKS determines the edge of a student's learning state.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
My main challenge was controlling a learning environment that implemented two separate technology products. Navigating several different course management systems and monitoring student progress in all of them was quite difficult.

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
I would like to try using the ALEKS prep products in the future.

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

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
It is important when incorporating technology in the classroom to implement a class rule for showing work and insist that students keep a paper trail of their math reasoning.