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.

Black Hills State University, SD
4 Year University / Public

Scenario: I use ALEKS in a traditional course without a textbook.
Purpose: Core Curriculum
ALEKS Course: Beginning Algebra

Paul Kopco, Instructor
My students and I have enjoyed using ALEKS. The ability to adapt to the students' level of proficiency is especially popular. Students who would normally struggle in a textbook based course seem to perform better with ALEKS due to clear goals and the self-adapting techniques of ALEKS. My students' success is directly proportional to the time they spend in ALEKS.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
It was difficult to address varying student proficiency levels in one 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: 20
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 60

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
ALEKS is used in an all lab format.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Hours per week: 5

For the sections that do NOT use ALEKS during this specific term, what do they work on in place of ALEKS?
Students not working in ALEKS use conventional textbooks.


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
ALEKS is the sole source of content.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
Topics are covered in the order suggested by ALEKS as "ready to learn."

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 modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
I became more of a coach and tutor instead of a lecturer.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I use the ALEKS progress reports to determine which students need extra guidance and motivation.

How do you use ALEKS in conjunction with any other learning management systems, course management programs, etc.?
I divide ALEKS content into three units and use the unit self-assessment and quiz functions from Desire2Learn.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
Students who achieve the required number of topics in ALEKS to receive a satisfactory grade are then required to take a COMPASS test, which ultimately determines if they can move on or repeat the course.

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

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
At a rate of two topics per hour, students are required to complete five hours and ten topics per week.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I use the ALEKS progress reports to keep track of my students' 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. The success of the students is directly proportional to the time they spend in ALEKS.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
Students who would normally struggle in a textbook based course seem to perform better with ALEKS due to clear goals and the self-adapting techniques of ALEKS.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
Students using ALEKS are able to progress from Basic Algebra to Intermediate Algebra and on to College Algebra in fewer semesters than with textbook based courses.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
Students are pleased with their progress in ALEKS. They appreciate being able to clearly see their final goal and how they are progressing toward it.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
The students were initially frustrated because they had to pick topic areas randomly.

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
I will try to determine a way to group students of relatively equal proficiencies in separate course sections. This will help me know if students are going through ALEKS at approximately the same pace and therefore allows for more targeted reinforcement of material.

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