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.

University of Central Arkansas, AR
4 Year University / Public

Scenario: I use ALEKS in a traditional course with a textbook.
Purpose: Homework
ALEKS Course: College Algebra

Dr. Charles Watson, Associate Professor
My students had initial difficulty, but those that maintained focus and motivation did well. In addition, ALEKS technical assistance for both instructors and students is extremely helpful.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
My incoming College Algebra students lack work ethic and are frequently unprepared.

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: 34
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 34

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
My course consists of one lecture session and one problem solving per week, with homework sessions completed independently outside of class.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: 1-2
Hours per week: 3-4
Hours per term: Varies


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
I introduced ALEKS using a computer projector and on-live demonstrations. I provided students with written log-on instructions and provided assistance in setting up their course. In the beginning, I would log-on during class and attempt to assist with questions about the pie or keyboard entry questions. Then I monitored progress during the week and shared progress notes with the class on a weekly basis. 

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
Yes. I cover topics in the same order as the textbook we use in class.

Do you integrate a textbook with your course using ALEKS Textbook Integration? Please describe how you set up your chapter completion dates.
Yes. I set up chapter completion dates to match my course syllabus, resulting in approximately three weeks per chapter.

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

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
I did not modify my approach much.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I monitor student performance on the homework and ask students for input on where they need help. From both sources, I attempt to be a resource.


Grading

What percent of a student's grade does ALEKS make up?
ALEKS makes up roughly 17 percent  of my students' total course grade.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
ALEKS accounts for 100 homework grade points out of 600 possible points in my course.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
Initially, ALEKS was 100 percent of my students' homework responsibilities, but later in the semester, I adjusted it to be worth about half of the homework expectation.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
 I expected at least a 20 percent increase in pie completion by the end of each section. This had to be adjusted in order for students to complete their pies by the end of the semester.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I monitor my students' progress by reviewing how many skills have been mastered and the percentage of their pie that is complete.

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?
Students communicate that they feel ALEKS helps them become more independent learners.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
ALEKS as a homework supplement definitely contributes to improved student performance.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
The overall pass rate increased for my course, even though each class had varying abilities.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
Students communicate that they feel ALEKS helps them become more independent learners. Additionally, they feel empowered by being able to get help from someone other than the instructor.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
My greatest challenge was having unclear expectations about how ALEKS textbook integration works.

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
I anticipate using ALEKS as a placement tool, instead of a homework supplement.

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

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
Maintain flexibility with students and keep encouraging them. Most have never worked with a pure computer-generated assisted learning program. This is a new adventure for them.