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 Wisconsin Colleges, WI
2 Year Community College

Scenario: I use ALEKS in an online course without a textbook.
Purpose: Core Curriculum
ALEKS Course: College Algebra

Kavita Bhatia, Associate Professor
My experience with ALEKS is positive. The program forced the students to review and relearn topics that they had forgotten. Students couldn't skip over topics such as application problems or exponential and logarithmic equations just because they found them difficult. I was particularly impressed by their ability to solve fairly complex exponential equations.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
I had low passing rates before using ALEKS with students. The course includes students with a wide range of abilities and it was difficult to address everyone's needs in the course.

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: 3
Number of students per ALEKS section: 29
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 29

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
The course is structured as two lectures followed by one lab.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: Approximately 2-3

For the sections that do NOT use ALEKS during this specific term, what do they work on in place of ALEKS?
The traditional courses that didn't use ALEKS use a textbook.


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
Students are given a list of course topics that are on ALEKS. I present topics in order from the list given. Students have weekly homework quizzes on the topics presented and those are given a due date. The quizzes can be taken an unlimited number of times until the due date. Students also have to work regularly on their ALEKS Pie and have it completed by the end of the semester. A certain percentage of the grade is assigned for the pie and all exams are scheduled quizzes that do not affect their pies.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
Students are given a list of topics in the syllabus. I present these topics in the order of the list.

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 periodically throughout the term.

How do you incorporate ALEKS Quizzes into your course?
I make the ALEKS quizzes homework quizzes that students can take an unlimited number of times until the date they are due. The exams given are also scheduled quizzes.

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
I have used scheduled assessments for exams.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
My lectures are more focused and do not go as much in-depth. I also design the course format differently by having two lectures followed by one lab instead of all lectures.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I use the ALEKS quiz results by question to see how the students have performed on each question in the exam. If a large percentage of students did something wrong, we review the topic in class again. I also saw how many times the students took each quiz in order to pass it. This gives me a good idea of their understanding.

How do you use ALEKS in conjunction with any other learning management systems, course management programs, etc.?
I use Excel to maintain my grades. It is easy to copy the results from ALEKS to Excel.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
ALEKS comprises 100 percent of the students' grade with the following breakdown: three exams on ALEKS comprise 45 percent; a final on ALEKS comprises 30 percent; the weekly quizzes in ALEKS comprise 14 percent; the ALEKS Pie comprises ten percent; and attendance in ALEKS comprises one percent.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
ALEKS is 100 percent of the students' homework responsibilities.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
The students are expected to complete a certain number of ALEKS Pie topics each week.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I use the ALEKS progress reports each week to see the total percent of progress completed.

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?
Some students understand the concepts right away and master the topics quickly. Other students have to work more to better understand the concepts.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
Yes. The ALEKS assessments are good at checking students' mastery of recently learned topics. The extra practice that is due to the design of the program helps students to be successful in the course.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
Students who stay with the course are generally successful in passing the course. In this selected course, the fail rate was only 17 percent, which is fairly good for this particular course.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
Students who can work independently and have seen the material before like ALEKS because it allows them to work ahead when possible.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
Not knowing all of the problems that students might have with ALEKS made things a little difficult. Initially I used scheduled assessments for exams because there wasn't enough class time for students to complete them. But being able to design exams as scheduled quizzes in ALEKS made it easier for me to assess and for students to prepare.

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