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.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Canada
4 Year Baccalaureate-Granting College / Public

Scenario: I use ALEKS in a traditional course with a textbook.
Purpose: Core Curriculum, Homework
ALEKS Course: Intermediate Algebra

Tanya Boboricken, Professor
I have been using ALEKS for two years in two different capacities. One is a continuous intake math course, which means that my students can start anytime and work at their own pace until they complete the material. I also work with ALEKS in two traditional courses with start and end dates. My students like ALEKS and are very happy with their progress.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
Our main challenge is addressing the different abilities of each student. Differentiation and individualized instruction would alleviate the stress that we encounter due to limited time to address the range of student questions during lectures. 

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: 16
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 16

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
We work in a traditional classroom setting, with limited computer resources. I administer lectures and paper and pencil quizzes in addition to ALEKS.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: Varies
Hours per week: 6 percent increase in mastery per week
Hours per term: Varies

For the sections that do NOT use ALEKS during this specific term, what do they work on in place of ALEKS?
Those students not using ALEKS work with their textbook for homework and assignments.


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
I implement ALEKS into my course curriculum through weekly quizzes in ALEKS that students are allowed to take as many times as they require for retention and preparation. I also administer two in-class midterms, as well as require six percent increase in skill mastery per week.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
I integrate ALEKS with our textbook and follow the order of the textbook chapters.

Do you integrate a textbook with your course using ALEKS Textbook Integration? Please describe how you set up your chapter completion dates.
I use textbook integration and have partitioned the class into three parts based on chapter order. Chapters 1-3 are due by the fifth week, chapters 4-7 are due by the tenth week, and chapters 8-10 are due by the 15th week. Students cover roughly one chapter per week.

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS Quizzes into your course?
I incorporate quizzes as homework, and assign them for each chapter.

How do you incorporate ALEKS homework assignments into your course?
I assign homework weekly in the form of quizzes, and allow my students to take them as many times as they wish.

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
In addition to the automatic progress assessments, I schedule assessments halfway through the course.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
I will probably change more over time. This is my first time teaching a traditional course using ALEKS.  For now, I am shortening my traditional lectures, doing more problems identified by ALEKS as weak areas, and giving weekly quizzes to check progress.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I use the report that shows me the average class progress in order to identify weak areas. I also look at individual students and create optional worksheets in order to help focus my students' learning.

How do you use ALEKS in conjunction with any other learning management systems, course management programs, etc.?
I use Excel for grading.


Grading

What percent of a student's grade does ALEKS make up?
ALEKS constitutes 25 percent of the student's total course grade.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
My students' ALEKS grade consists of quizzes in ALEKS (10 marks each, 100 marks total), Progress in ALEKS (50 marks, two marks for initial assessment test, and four marks weekly for six percent increase -- if student reaches 100 percent in ALEKS, then she earns all 50 marks at that point). There are 600 marks total. Besides ALEKS, there are two in-class midterms for 100 marks each, a final exam for 150 marks, and other homework for 50 marks.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
ALEKS makes up about 50 percent of my students' homework responsibilities.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I require a six percent increase in progress per week and reward students with four points towards their homework grade if they meet this goal.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I monitor student progress from the beginning of the course and note their individual pie results, even though it does not count towards their final grade. I also evaluate their percent increase as compared to their initial and progress assessments.

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?
It is too early to say with any certainty. My weakest student is using ALEKS the most and I expect him to do much better than we would have in a traditional setting.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
It is too early for me to tell if student performance is directly affected by ALEKS methodology.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
Although it is early in the term, and I am unsure of the results, I am hopeful that our test scores and retention rates have increased after implementing ALEKS.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
After some initial troubleshooting, my students like ALEKS and are very happy with their progress.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
Initially, we experienced issues with the credit card requirement in order to purchase ALEKS.

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
I will modify the weekly percentage increase requirement. I also look forward to using the test feature as well as ALEKS' internal grading options.

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?
I will modify the weekly percentage increase requirement. I also look forward to using the test feature as well as ALEKS' internal grading options.