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.

Western Connecticut State University, CT
4 Year University / Public

Scenario: I use ALEKS in an online course without a textbook.
Purpose: Remediation
ALEKS Course: Intermediate Algebra

Ernest Lehman, Adjunct Professor
I really enjoy being able to offer students specific and individualized attention with ALEKS when they have questions. Furthermore, my students no longer have to wait until the entire class is studying a topic in order to receive an explanation. The students appreciate being able to work independently, and many successfully complete the course well before the end of the semester.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
Prior to implementing ALEKS, all of our remedial courses were taught by a lecture method where all students were exposed to the same material at the same time. Obviously, this method did not allow for differentiation or individualized instruction, resulting in lessons that were too slow for some students and too advanced for others.

Was ALEKS used in your course with all students or with targeted students?
My course consists of targeted students who are assigned to my class based upon the deficiencies they exhibit on our institution's initial placement test.

Number of students who used ALEKS for the course and term:
Number of sections: 12
Number of students per ALEKS section: 30
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 360

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
After completing the initial assessment, each student works on the topics that they need to master in order to remediate deficiencies. I give some small group lectures when there is a sufficient number of students who have difficulties with a specific topic. Most class time is devoted to working independently with the instructor acting as a tutor.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: 2
Hours per week: 5
Hours per term: 60

For the sections that do NOT use ALEKS during this specific term, what do they work on in place of ALEKS?
Those sections not focused on ALEKS are either in lecture courses or are using another program such as MyMathLab.


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
Our college math department determines which topics need to be mastered, and I take these recommendations and form the basis of my course curriculum.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
We suggest that students complete all of the topics in one section before moving on to another wedge of their pie.

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 modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
ALEKS enables me to individualize instruction effectively. I am now able to offer students the same attention as a private tutor might.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I use information from printed assessments in order to determine where students' weakness are. I then guide them back to a specific section so that they can review the topic.


Grading

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

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
The students' letter grade is determined by relating it to the percent of ALEKS topics that they master out of the total number of available topics. If they demonstrate mastery of at least 90 percent of the concepts offered, they are awarded an A.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
Students are responsible for the completion of all ALEKS topics, which may lead to homework, although it is not specifically assigned.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
To successfully complete the course, we require that students make weekly progress in order to master 90 percent of the course concepts by the end of the term.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I print out the assessment performance results each class session, which enables me to monitor and evaluate student performance.

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?
For the most part, students who spend more time in ALEKS perform better.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
I think that student performance is closely related to motivation. If a student is motivated to complete the course early, they generally will succeed with a good grade. Those that do not come to class or work on the program outside of class, usually do not pass.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
I strongly believe that the student pass rate is higher with ALEKS, compared to the previous lecture  format of our remedial courses.  I am extremely happy with the attitude students displayed in the class; they really appreciated the opportunity to complete the course early and not have to go to class anymore.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
Based on the feedback I receive from student evaluations, my students enjoy ALEKS and feel good about their progress in the program.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
Helping my students understand that all topics in ALEKS are related, and that the consistent review of those topics is very important, was an initial challenge. Fortunately, the mechanics of ALEKS are easy to understand and explain to students.

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

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
Be ready, flexible, and encouraging!