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.

Madison Area Technical College, WI
2 Year Community College

Scenario: I use ALEKS in a hybrid course with an optional textbook.
Purpose: Core Curriculum
ALEKS Course: Intermediate Algebra

George M. Alexander, Instructor


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
Students have many gaps in prerequisite skills, despite our best institutional efforts for proper course placement. Many minor mistakes continue to plague students' work if we continuously reward close answers with partial credit. The frequency of common small mistakes typically gets in the way of more advanced learning and understanding concepts.

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: 1
Number of students per ALEKS section: 22
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 22

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
I schedule one hour of required class meeting each week which is used for in-class paper exams, lectures, small groups, and individual assistance. An additional hour is scheduled as an optional open lab where students work on ALEKS or any other course work with my assistance available on an individual basis.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Hours per week: 6
Hours per term: 90

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

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?
I set up a homework assignment in ALEKS for each pie slice. Students have unlimited attempts available throughout the semester and the best score counts in grading. Students must pass the homework at 76 percent or more before they can take the corresponding paper exam.

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
I let ALEKS initiate regular progress assessments.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
I give ALEKS control over all student progress through content. I work with students on any and all course topics throughout the course. I have learned to be very flexible and enjoy this so much more than being tied down to a schedule of topics myself.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I primarily use the Progress in Learning Mode reports to assess students' work. I set weekly time and progress goals for the whole semester, and this total progress in the Learning Mode most accurately reflects the work getting done. I also use the individual student pie charts to gauge readiness for homework and exams in the different slices.

How do you use ALEKS in conjunction with any other learning management systems, course management programs, etc.?
Blackboard contains the syllabus, grading policies, and lesson notes, sorted according to the ALEKS pie slices. I use the discussion boards in Blackboard for student participation and to post online office hours. I use the grade book feature in Blackboard to report results.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
I assign weekly targets of six hours logged in ALEKS and advancing percentage of the ALEKS pie; these targets count as 15 percent of the final course grade. Another 15 percent is earned for ALEKS homework, 10 percent for problem write-ups on problem solutions in the ALEKS pie, 20 percent for the major application assignments outside of ALEKS, and 10 percent for participation in course discussions. The final 30 percent of the course grade comes from the written in-class exams.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
ALEKS is 80 percent of the homework load by effort and time required.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Students need to add four percent of the topics to their pie each week after the course prerequisites are met. The percentage gain in the weekly targets is higher early in the semester and lower towards the end.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
Weekly progress checks are the main indicator I use. Students have to meet the time goal of six hours per week and a fixed percentage goal each week. I use the Progress in Learning Mode report to measure both at a set time each week.

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. Students with 60 or more hours in ALEKS for the semester are almost certain to pass the course with a C or better grade. Students with less than 30 hours are almost certain to fail the course. Better performance also comes with more consistent work in ALEKS. I encourage students to meet the six hour per week goal rather than skipping two or three weeks at a time.


Best Practices

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