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 an online course without a textbook.
Purpose: Emporium Model
ALEKS Course: Introduction to Statistics

David K. Rigsbee, Mathematics Department Chair
ALEKS has been the best thing to happen to our math program. Enrollment in our Open Learning Center math classes has more than doubled in one year. Our students have better retention than they had before, and other disciplines are now wishing that there was a program like ALEKS for their courses.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
Previously, students were given a textbook and syllabus and had to work on their own to progress through the course material. Even with videos, students often could not comprehend the material. After a while, students became discouraged and our completion rate was low. Also, we had to grade all of the tests by hand, so students did not receive timely feedback. Most of the time that instructors spent with students was tied up in grading their tests, not in discussing the subject matter of the course.

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:
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 24

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
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?
Students who do not use ALEKS use a traditional textbook.


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
In implementing ALEKS, we have eliminated all textbooks, as well as all pencil-and-paper assignments and testing.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
No, we allow students to work on their course in the asynchronous fashion designed by ALEKS.

Do you integrate a textbook with your course using ALEKS Textbook Integration? Please describe how you set up your chapter completion dates.
No, we only use the textbook as a reference.

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 quizzes as additional practice for students.

How do you incorporate ALEKS homework assignments into your course?
I use homework assignments as additional practice for students who need it.

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
We use a scheduled assessment as the final exam for all students. I also use scheduled assessments when students request an assessment over weekends or during vacation times when the college is closed.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
With ALEKS, I spend far more time teaching students math and far less time grading tests.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I encourage students to ask questions for sections of their pie that they are having trouble completing. I also like using the assessment report that shows students what they have gotten wrong on assessments.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
Time spent in ALEKS accounts for 25 percent of a student's grade. An additional 25 percent counts for the students' most recent or best reassessment score, and the remaining 50 percent is based on the student's comprehensive assessment.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Students must complete 6-7 percent of their pie each week for 11 weeks, for a minimum total completion of 73 percent for the entire course. Students can receive a qualifying grade for the course with only 73 percent of their pie completed if they work in ALEKS for at least four hours per week. If not, then students must complete at least 80 percent of their pie.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
We track student progress weekly by checking their most recent assessment scores and time spent on ALEKS.

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. However, for students who complete the class in 16 weeks or less, we waive the requirement for time spent in ALEKS.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
I feel that ALEKS keeps student interest high by giving students immediate feedback and allowing them to work in different sections of their pie if they are having trouble with a specific topic.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
Since using ALEKS, students have improved both their pass rates and their retention rates. The number of students who have successfully completed their course has increased from 19 to 30, while the number of students who withdrew has dropped from 56 to 39. Additionally, student enrollment in the Open Learning Center classes has increased to over 200 students each semester from a previous enrollment of approximately 90 students.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
Students are very positive about ALEKS, as evidenced by the doubling of enrollment in Open Learning Center classes.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
With ALEKS, we are able to prove and document that students do not spend enough time working on their math. We now tell students up front that they must spend at least three hours every week working in ALEKS or else they will be dropped from the class.

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
I want to share more of our tips for success with students at the beginning of the course.

Which ALEKS course product(s) have you used in the past?
Basic Math, Pre-Algebra, Beginning Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, College Algebra, Trigonometry, Introduction to Statistics

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
Require students to spend time in ALEKS each week and for those students who are not spending adequate time in ALEKS or are not making the mandatory progress, require them to seek individual help from the instructor. Also, encourage students to be more proactive about requesting assessments and to discuss their assessment results with their instructor in between class sessions.

Additional Insights:
As our online program starts to progress, ALEKS has enabled us to teach more courses exclusively online.  Because of this, we are now able to enroll many more students in a course. ALEKS has been the best thing to happen to our math program.