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.

Virginia Highlands Community College, VA
2 Year Community College

Scenario: I use ALEKS in an online course without a textbook.
Purpose: Online Course
ALEKS Course: Beginning Algebra

Susan Fleming, Professor
I have used ALEKS for about eight years as a stand-alone distance course in Arithmetic, Beginning Algebra, and Intermediate Algebra. I have several students each semester tell me that they love the way ALEKS works. ALEKS is helpful for a variety of students and allows them to work at their own pace and gives the opportunity to have a tutor if needed.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
Before I started using ALEKS, we had no developmental math in a distance education format. There are some instructors who believe developmental students cannot do those courses via distance education; I disagree. Not all students in developmental courses are there because they are weak intellectually; the students are quite intelligent but just bored with traditional instruction. ALEKS works wonderfully for these students.

Was ALEKS used in your course with all students or with targeted students?
ALEKS is used with all students who sign up for the distance course.

Number of students who used ALEKS for the course and term:
Number of sections: 1
Number of students per ALEKS section: 30
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 30

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Hours per week: 5
Hours per term: 75


Implementation

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
I let student progress through the topics in any order. However, this fall I started using ALEKS Intermediate Objectives to try to guide students through the topics that are being covered in the traditional course first. That way students don't have to complete the whole pie in order to finish the course since ALEKS has more topics than what is being covered in our traditional course.

Do you integrate a textbook with your course using ALEKS Textbook Integration? Please describe how you set up your chapter completion dates.
No. I removed the textbook requirement several semesters ago to reduce cost for the students. They had told me that they didn't use it anyway. 

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 let ALEKS do what it was designed to do - help students master learning. Students progress at their own rate in their own path through ALEKS. Oddly, when I teach traditional classes, I have them tightly scheduled down to the day. I don't believe online courses should be a traditional course put on the computer. They should offer a different way of learning for students who don't do well with traditional lecture instruction.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I rarely use the information ALEKS provides. Occasionally if I see several students work on a particular topic that is usually difficult, I will send them an e-mail telling them where they can get more explanation, but usually I wait for them to e-mail me that they are stuck and need help.

How do you use ALEKS in conjunction with any other learning management systems, course management programs, etc.?
I use Blackboard to report final grades, which include the percentage of ALEKS topics completed and the time spent in the course.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
The percent of ALEKS topics mastered comprises 50 percent of the students' grade. The other 50 percent comes from a comprehensive final exam. However, a student must earn at least a  60 percent on the comprehensive exam in order to pass the course, regardless of the ALEKS percentage.

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

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Students are not required to make a certain amount of progress in the ALEKS topics because they start at such different places and learn at different rates. Students are required to spend at least five hours per week on the program. Periodically throughout the semester, I send e-mails that let students know where we are in the semester so they can be at a certain percentage of the way through the topics. If the students are not close to that percentage, they know they should spend more time on ALEKS or they will not finish the course by the end of the semester.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I look at ALEKS progress in the Learning Mode. When the semester is over and I tally the amount of ALEKS progress, I count the last assessment plus any additional topics that the students have completed in the Learning Mode.


Best Practices

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