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.

University of Wisconsin, WI
4 Year University / Public

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

Kelly Kohlmetz, Coordinator
My experience with ALEKS has been excellent. I believe that ALEKS is one of the best programs available for mathematics. Students are finding success in mathematics, many for the first time in their lives. There are also a percentage of students who are now able to complete more than one course in a single semester. Students frequently mention how much they like the immediate feedback in the Learning Mode for each problem, instead of completing an entire assignment incorrectly. They also love that they can work on what they need to work on and can quickly work through what they have already mastered.


Scenario

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 do not use ALEKS in the class because we only meet for 50 minutes per week, so students are expected to work in ALEKS outside of class. During class, I give short lectures on topics that students are ready to learn, as well as answering any questions that they have. Students have to turn in a written assignment each class period: either an ALEKS worksheet or corrections from their ALEKS assessment from the week.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: 7
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?
Students not using ALEKS use textbook problems and MathZone.


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
ALEKS is the primary way of having students work on mathematical content. Students have to complete a prerequisite pie before they are allowed to start with the material for the course. Students also take a requested assessment every other week. Students are required to turn in either an ALEKS worksheet or corrections on their assessments every week as homework. Furthermore, students are required to complete 12 topics and six hours in ALEKS each week.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
Students are allowed to choose the order that they work on topics in ALEKS.

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 daily throughout the term.

How do you incorporate ALEKS homework assignments into your course?
Quizzes act as homework, and these are only assigned to students who have requested them or need the additional help.

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
Students are given a scheduled assessment every other week. After students complete the assessment, I send them their assessment report. Students are responsible for correcting any problems they have missed. Students also have to come in for a proctored ALEKS midterm and a proctored ALEKS final assessment.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
ALEKS has completely changed my instructional approach. My lectures are much shorter and consist of one or two problems of a certain problem type. I make sure that each day has at least one topic that applies to each student. I also decide on my lecture topics 15 minutes before class as students are always working on their pies, so what they are ready to learn changes all the time. I also require students to check of all of their answers. I still require students to turn in written work, such as worksheets and assessment corrections, so that I can make sure students' mathematical work, processes, and answers are correct.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I look at student progress in the Learning Mode for the course almost every day to see which students are working and also to view their percentage complete and total time spent in ALEKS. Once a week I look at the Full Progress Over the Last Twelve Months for the Course Report to see overall progress for the semester. I also use this report to concentrate on whether students have had any progress assessments, as well as progress since their last assessment. I also look at individual student reports to determine the total time spent on ALEKS, as well as the item total after an assessment. Once a week before class, I look at the Ready to Learn (Learning) Report to help me determine lecture topics.

How do you use ALEKS in conjunction with any other learning management systems, course management programs, etc.?
Since class only meets for 50 minutes per week, content connections and discussions occur via Desire2Learn (D2L), which is our campus course management program. Students are required to create one post (to answer the question posed by me) by Tuesday and then respond to a post from one of their group members by Thursday. This is to help students to see connections between topics and to ask each other for help if they are having trouble on topics. Topics are chosen based on what students are working on ALEKS.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
In-class assessments (five problems from an instructor-generated ALEKS worksheet), assessment corrections, and ALEKS worksheets account for 20 percent of a student's grade. Discussions on D2L that are based on ALEKS progress for an additional 20 percent, and the final assessment in ALEKS is 60 percent of a student's grade.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
ALEKS is all of a student's homework since written work and discussions are determined based on work in ALEKS.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Yes, students are required to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS. In general, students must add 12 items per week and spend six hours per week working in ALEKS. Students are given work contracts every other week to specify exactly what they must do, which contain the total number of items they must have in their pie (based on assessment performance) and total number of hours in ALEKS. Failure to satisfy a contract reduces a student's final grade by two percent. However, students are allowed to renegotiate a contract if they know they have a bad week coming up, although they are then required to do more work the following week in order to make up for the reduced work load.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I use reports in the Instructor Module daily to see which students are working in ALEKS and how much time they are spending in the program; specifically I look at the percentage complete in their pies and total time spent in the program. Once a week, I look at their progress over the entire semester to see students' overall progress and I concentrate on whether students have had any assessments and whether or not they have made any progress since they last took an assessment. Every other week, I also look at the individual student reports to determine the total time spent in ALEKS, as well as the number of topics they have completed after an assessment.


Best Practices

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