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.

John Wood Community College, IL
2 Year Community College

Scenario: I use ALEKS in a traditional course without a textbook.
Purpose: Core Curriculum, Remediation
ALEKS Course: Basic Math

Cynthia Rigsbee, Instructor
I have been using ALEKS for three years in our Developmental Education math courses; it is the best program that I have ever worked with. ALEKS brings students up to speed on their general mathematics knowledge. It often prepares students for the next course before the semester is completed. ALEKS gives students confidence to go on. Many of my students who have previously given up on being able to understand math are successful for the first time with ALEKS.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
In the Developmental Education Department, we find it difficult to cover core material with each student. ALEKS allows our students to work on material that they have missed during their elementary and high school curriculums. ALEKS brings students up to speed on their general mathematics knowledge. It often prepares students for the next course before the semester is completed. Our entire open learning math has converted to ALEKS rather than using traditional paper/pencil and textbook courses. Many of our online courses now use ALEKS, as well.

Was ALEKS used in your course with all students or with targeted students?
ALEKS is used with all of our Developmental Education math students in the open learning center. Our lowest course is entirely ALEKS based.

Number of students who used ALEKS for the course and term:
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 85

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
The students meet twice per week for a total of one hour and 25 minutes of class time. Students are expected to put in at least three hours of work in ALEKS per week.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: 2
Hours per week: 3
Hours per term: 48

For the sections that do NOT use ALEKS during this specific term, what do they work on in place of ALEKS?
All of our students use ALEKS for the course. It is a structured course in the sense that the student is required to attend the class at a certain time twice per week, and there is a teacher present to assist them should they need help.


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
ALEKS was implemented over five years ago in the Developmental Education Department. For several years, the department chair managed the course to be sure that it was working for our college.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
No. The students select their topics from the ALEKS Pie and work on their own.

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS Quizzes into your course?
I use ALEKS quizzes for students who want extra practice in certain areas where they feel that they need more work. It is usually at the students' requests.

How do you incorporate ALEKS homework assignments into your course?
The ALEKS homework assignments are entirely student selected. I print out the answer sheet for the students when they complete the homework. This helps students see how they had done on the assignments, what they missed, and why.

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
When a student's green score (progress in Learning Mode) on the bar graph reaches about ten percent, I trigger a progress assessment for her/him if ALEKS doesn't. It seems easier for my students to take several small assessments rather than larger ones because it makes them feel more confident.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
I am able to work individually with students to help them understand the math that they never fully understood and it is wonderful to see the success that they have made via ALEKS!

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
Most of the information we use from ALEKS concerns student retention and progress to the next course.

How do you use ALEKS in conjunction with any other learning management systems, course management programs, etc.?
We use ALEKS as stand-alone courses.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
This course is graded as pass or fail. We use 80 percent completion of course topics as the standard for passing.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Yes. We require three hours and 6-7 percent progress per week in ALEKS.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
We track our students using their ALEKS pie charts, the Detailed Progress Reports, and a form that our Math Department Chair has developed.

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. For example, one of my students spent well over 111 hours on ALEKS last semester; she was one of the students who completed two courses last semester.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
Yes! ALEKS gives students confidence to go on. Many of my students who have previously given up on being able to understand math are successful for the first time with ALEKS. I have encouraged many structured students to take their next course with ALEKS. I tell them that they will love it!


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
Last semester, four of my students using ALEKS completed Basic Math and were able to begin another course that completed their math requirements, all within the one semester!

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
My students love ALEKS. They are successful and are given credit for the math that they already know.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
Our administration strongly suggested that we allow students the choice of a paper-pencil-text course or ALEKS; this choice lasted one semester. The Department Chairs converted all open learning math courses to ALEKS!

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
We will add ALEKS QuickTables to the course. Our instructors find that many students coming into college don't know their basic math facts.

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

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
I have suggested to other instructors that students print out the ALEKS explanation pages and at least one problem. Students should use a three-ring binder with colored tabs that correspond with the ALEKS Pie and sort the explanation pages into the binder for future reference.