ALEKS - Assessment and Learning

Implementation Strategies

View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes. 

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Francisco Middle School, San Francisco Unified School District
San Francisco, CA

Grade(s): 6 - 8
Scenario: Computer Lab
Purpose: Intervention
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 50%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 2 hours per week; 40 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Mathematics - LV 5 (with QuickTables)

Jennifer Lim, Teacher
We went into a computer lab 2-3 times a week for ALEKS. Students were able to figure out how to use ALEKS pretty quickly. The quick turnaround of questions gave them a lot of excellent practice. Students were excited when they received pieces of the pie, and that motivated them to finish a slice. The topics covered were age and level-appropriate. I liked that they also included word problems. QuickTables was also a great way for those students who were still struggling with basic operations to keep building upon what they already knew.


Scenario

What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
One challenge was finding ways of actively engaging students in a meaningful way, especially for the intervention students. They already have such a negative view of math, that it is hard to motivate them. They often feel like giving up because it is just too hard or they think they'll never get it, so why even try.

How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
2-3 days per week.

What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
40 minutes.


Implementation

How do you implement ALEKS?
ALEKS is done 2-3 times a week. The other days, we use white boards and do some extra practice on the same topics. Sometimes, I even logged in and we would go through some of the problems together with the projector.

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

How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Students have ALEKS on Monday, Wednesday, and sometimes Tuesday. We go into the computer lab, and the students log on and get started. Periodically, I will call out how many pie slices students have earned to keep them motivated. I walk around and monitor students. I also found that for some students, it was helpful for me to choose the topic for them. That helped them stay more focused and really attempt to do the problems that they could do.

How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
Technology is such a big part of what helped the students in my intervention class. In my regular class, however, it is difficult to get the whole class into the computer lab.

How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
They are often encouraged to do so, but many do not do it. Some do not have Internet access at home while others will work online with their tutors.

How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
During parent conferences, we let the parents know about ALEKS and showed them their child's successes and areas for improvement.


Grading

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities? If so, what part of the total homework load is it?
No.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
Everyday that students use ALEKS, they have a potential to receive 10 points. If I see full effort, it would be a 10. If they goofed around during our time in the computer lab, they would receive points off. Near the end, I also start grading them based on the number of topics they master. I set a certain number for the day, and they have to really try to reach that goal. It turns out to be about 50 percent of the grade.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I require that students show me at least one pie slice topic each session, unless they were being assessed. I measured that by looking at the Time and Topic report provided through ALEKS.


Learning Outcomes

Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
Since using ALEKS, I have seen some students progress from 10 percent to over 60 percent. Most students were able to increase about 30 percent. Basic arithmetic skills were improved greatly, as they were constantly being used. Students felt great when they knew they received a pie piece. It boosted their confidence and allowed them to do even more.


Best Practices

Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
I give each student a notebook at the beginning of the program which they use to show all the work for the problems that they do. Students carry this notebook and a pencil to the computer lab each time, and then I collect them as they leave, so I can see their work for the day.