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.

Winona State University, MN
4 Year Baccalaureate-Granting College / Public

Scenario: I use ALEKS in a traditional course with a textbook.
Purpose: Supplement, Preparation
ALEKS Course: College Algebra

Jeff Anderson, Professor
The ALEKS preparatory course is key in helping students reacquire prerequisite material, without needing a lot of class time. ALEKS students are more capable and spend more time working in general than students in non-ALEKS courses.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
Funding was an initial challenge.

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: 24
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 24

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
The course consists of standard course periods. Students complete ALEKS work outside of class in our Mathematics Achievement Center.

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

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


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
I require students to complete an ALEKS Assessment for a grade by the end of week six. Students are able to retake an assessment as many times as they like up until the end of week six. The ALEKS Assessment score constitutes 10 percent of the students' final course grade.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
No.

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 periodically throughout the term.

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
Students take an ALEKS assessment in-class at the end of weeks three and six.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
I do much less explaining with prerequisite material, especially in cases where the ALEKS data shows students have completed that material.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I observe which topics students have completed and how much time they spent logged on to ALEKS. This dictates how I approach in-class lectures and discussions.

How do you use ALEKS in conjunction with any other learning management systems, course management programs, etc.?
Our university uses Desire2Learn (D2L).


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
The student's final ALEKS assessment is weighted as 10 percent of their final course grade.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Students not meeting 60 percent on their first assessment are required to spend at least three hours per week in our Mathematics Achievement Center.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I use the ALEKS individual and class mastery reports.

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 who put in at least six hours per week, complete at least 70 percent of the topics by week three, whereas students who put in less time have less than 70 percent of the topics complete - pretty compelling.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
The ALEKS preparatory course is key. Having students start out well always has a positive effect.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
ALEKS students are more capable and spend more time working in general than students in non-ALEKS courses.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
Students think ALEKS is helpful. There is a definite difference in class performance between students who work in ALEKS properly and those who wait until the last minute to do their work.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
Students had initial problems with simply registering and getting started.

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
I will have students complete the registration and initial assessment in class.  I will also devote one to two class sessions for students to work on ALEKS.

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

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
Require students to complete a certain amount of time working on ALEKS each week and tie it to the students' grade. To keep students motivated, I offer ten points extra credit for students who assess at 90 percent or above on the final assessment.