ALEKS - Assessment and Learning

4.1 Assessments in ALEKS


The ALEKS assessment (knowledge check) uses open-ended problems (no multiple-choice questions). The assessment uses adaptive questioning, so that problem types are selected based on all the previous answers the student has given. It is impossible to predict which types of problems will appear, or in what order. Moreover, the problems themselves are generated algorithmically, with randomly-selected values (as is the case also in the Learning Mode). Consequently, students cannot "learn the assessment," teachers are unable to "teach to the assessment," and some types of cheating are impossible. In the unlikely event that two students sitting next to one another were given the same problem-type at the same time, the problem parameters and values would be different, and so would the correct answer. Certain assessments should be supervised, however, such as the first, midterm, and final assessments in a course. Without supervision, students could use a textbook, receive systematic help, or have someone else take the assessment in their place. (There is no reason for a student who has begun using ALEKS to cheat on a "progress" assessment, as this will simply cause the system to suggest problems that are too difficult, and thus hinder the student's own work.)
The student will be given an Initial Assessment immediately following completion of the ALEKS Tutorial (Sec. 3.7). The student is clearly informed that the assessment (knowledge check) is beginning. Next, a series of problems is posed to the student. The student provides the solution to each problem using the Answer Editor (or clicks I don't know). In Assessment Mode, the system does not inform the student whether their answer is correct or incorrect. The assessment continues until the system has determined the student's precise knowledge of the course materials, at which time the assessment ends and a report is presented to the student. The number of questions asked cannot be known in advance, although consistent effort and attention may contribute to shorter assessments.