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.

Monroe County Community College, MI
2 Year Community College

Scenario: I use ALEKS in an online course without a textbook.
Purpose: Core Curriculum
ALEKS Course: Basic Math

Khadija Ahmed, Assistant Professor
ALEKS has been very good for our students. We have seen improved pass rates as a result of ALEKS, with about 75 percent of students completing Basic Math successfully. Additionally, student retention has improved, and about 50 percent of the students will continue to earn a passing grade in a subsequent math course. For students who need a review, ALEKS really helps to bridge the gap in student knowledge.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
We have a bimodal population in our Basic Math course. It is challenging to work with older students who are returning to college from the workplace and may have never taken math, alongside students who have seen math but didn't do well in it in high 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: 1
Number of students per ALEKS section: 20
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 20

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?

This course is self-paced. This section covers the same mathematical topics as other in-class sections, however it does not have regular meeting times, class lectures, and chat room capabilities.



How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: Approximately 5-7
Hours per week: Approximately 6-10
Hours per term: Approximately 60-100

For the sections that do NOT use ALEKS during this specific term, what do they work on in place of ALEKS?
Students in other sections use a traditional in-class approach with a textbook.


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
This course is graded on a pass/fail mastery basis. Successful completion of all required work earns a passing grade of H, otherwise a failing grade of U is assigned. All class assignments and tests are administered and evaluated online by ALEKS. Each student progresses at his or her own pace, as determined by ALEKS. All required ALEKS topics and the final comprehensive assessment must be completed during one semester for successful completion of the course and a passing grade of H.

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 never use the Instructor Module.

How do you incorporate ALEKS Quizzes into your course?
All ALEKS Quizzes are administered and graded online by ALEKS. Students must complete all quizzes to pass the course.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
Because this is a non-credit course that does not meet graduation requirements, we teach it as a totally self-paced course. I don't use this approach in any other courses.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I use ALEKS topics to provide students with additional examples and review materials.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
This course is graded on a pass/fail mastery basis, where a grade of H denotes passing, and U is a fail. Successful completion of all ALEKS Pre-Algebra topics and the final comprehensive assessment generated by ALEKS are required for a passing grade. This course does not meet graduation requirements.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
ALEKS comprises the entire homework load for the course.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Failure to log sufficient computer time or make weekly progress is grounds for dismissal from the course. Sufficient computer time is determined to be more than 15 hours of log-in time by the end of the first month, and at least two hours per week thereafter. If a student does not meet these requirements, they face faculty-initiated withdrawal from the course.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I use almost all of the tracking features provided by ALEKS in order to provide regular feedback to my students. This includes total time in this course, last login, last assessment, time to completion,  current learning rate, grade, hours per week, items learned per hour of use, and expected hours necessary to reach the goal.

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?
Students who take this course require different levels of instruction to reach successful completion. Some students just need a quick review, while others need more time. I have not tracked the success rate by this factor, though it would an interesting statistic.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
Yes. In our traditional course, we are able to help some students fill in gaps in knowledge by targeting the concepts they have difficulty with. ALEKS is persistent in requiring students to go back to these topics until they can master them.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
We have seen improved pass rates as a result of ALEKS. About 75 percent of students complete Basic Math successfully. Additionally, student retention has improved, and about 50 percent of the students will continue to earn a passing grade in a subsequent math course.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
In general, students feel that they are learning quite a lot from ALEKS.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
The main challenge was to get students to continue to work regularly in an online/distance environment. During the first week, I communicate with individual students daily. Later, I continue to send students their individual progress reports - more frequently in the beginning of the course, and less as the semester progresses.

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
In the future, I plan to use Blackboard in conjunction with ALEKS, so I can post my review notes. I would also like to utilize the scheduled assessment feature in ALEKS.

Which ALEKS course product(s) have you used in the past?
Basic Math

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
Communication is the most important factor for my students. I suggest sending individual progress reports to students on a regular basis and encouraging students to ask questions.