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.

Oklahoma Christian University, OK
4 Year University / Private

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

Monica Muza, Instructor
I teach a remedial math course that uses ALEKS to help students at all levels. Many students are able to understand math more when they use ALEKS. I believe the structure of the course allows them to get more personal attention. I also think getting immediate feedback on a question is very helpful.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
My institution has used ALEKS for as long as I have been here. My students complain about not having good teachers in previous classes in high school and middle school.

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: 2
Number of students per ALEKS section: 30
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 60

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
Students meet twice a week for 75 minutes and work on ALEKS for the entire class period.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Hours per week: 6

For the sections that do NOT use ALEKS during this specific term, what do they work on in place of ALEKS?
All sections use ALEKS.


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
Students spend all their class time working on ALEKS. The course is pass or fail; to pass, the students have to complete the ALEKS Pie and finish an in-class exam with at least 82 percent of the topics mastered.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
Students are encouraged to finish the Arithmetic section first and then work on the ALEKS Pie in any order they want.

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS homework assignments into your course?
Students are expected to work on ALEKS in class three hours a week and also outside of class three hours a week.

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
I give two comprehensive scheduled assessments in class. These assessments do not count towards the students' grades. I basically use them as practice tests so the students will know what to expect when they take their final exam.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
I do not lecture.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I use the ALEKS time until completion information to discuss students' progress with them. I export the Excel version of the report to get a quick look at how many hours each student has spent in ALEKS, as well as how many topics they have completed. I also use the ALEKS Detailed Progress Report to see how the students are progressing.

How do you use ALEKS in conjunction with any other learning management systems, course management programs, etc.?
I use Blackboard to send emails whenever I need to email the entire class.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
The students' grades are based solely on passing a comprehensive assessment. After completing all of the objectives in the ALEKS Pie, the students take a comprehensive assessment in class. They need to master at least 82 percent of the topics in their pie in order to pass the course. The grade is pass or fail.

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

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Students are allowed to work at their own pace. I help them set goals, but they are not required to reach them.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I check the ALEKS reports once a week and record the number of hours and the number of topics that the students have 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?
Yes. The students in the lower performing segment of the course always have significantly fewer hours in ALEKS than the other students.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
Many students are able to understand math more when they use ALEKS. I believe the structure of the course allows them to get more personal attention. I also think getting immediate feedback on a question is very helpful.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
About 75 percent of the students passed the course and were able to move on to college level math.


Best Practices

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
Students were allowed to miss class six times last semester; 21.4 percent of the semester. The amount of allowed absences will be reduced to four. I would also like to group students based on where they are in the material so they can work together and help each other.

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

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
I think students need help setting goals. I ask the students when they would like to finish and let them know how many topics they need to complete each week in order to meet that goal. We re-evaluate this goal each week.