7.3 Planning the ALEKS Course
In ALEKS, the instructor has complete freedom in planning lectures,
lessons, and assignments, while ALEKS ensures that students can
progress toward mastery regardless of their level of preparation.
To the extent that students will be working independently in ALEKS,
the content of lab classes is provided by their work in ALEKS.
Instructors can, however, plan focused small-group instruction from week
to week (Sec. 7.5).
It is important to make ALEKS an integral part of the course
requirements and grading scheme. The main factor influencing the success
of students using ALEKS is the time that they spend in it. This means
that the students must be required to spend a suitable amount of time in
ALEKS on a weekly basis. (A minimum of three hours is recommended.)
They should be informed of this at the beginning of the course, and
the instructor should monitor their fulfillment of this obligation.
The amount of time required must be reasonable and in balance with other
requirements for the course; the instructor should not simply include
an ALEKS requirement without reducing the other requirements that
the students have to fulfill. For example, the quantity of homework
problems may be reduced, as the students will be solving problems in
their ALEKS sessions.
These are only suggestions, and experienced instructors may well find
approaches that will be more effective with their own students. There
must, however, be clear, formal support for the use of ALEKS.
One approach is to provide a certain number of points toward the final
grade for each week that the student fulfills their required hours.
It is advisable to reward each week, so that the student does not
fall into the expectation that all of the required hours can be done
at the end; consistency should be rewarded, along with total hours.
If a student falls short of the specified hours during a particular
week, that week is not rewarded, but the "deficit" is not carried
forward; the next week begins with a clean slate (the primary concern is
regular use of the system; for this reason a surplus is also not carried
forward). Proportional rewards can also be used; each hour spent has
a point value, up to the required minimum.
In order to effectively monitor the students' use, the instructor should
check the hours on the "Learning Progress Since Latest Assessment"
page or the "Time and Topic" report. This page can be printed out
every week for record-keeping. In rare cases, students may try to fool
ALEKS by logging on to their accounts and doing something else; this
can be seen when the number of items gained per hour is far too low.
ALEKS will log the student off if there is no activity after a
certain amount of time. Instructors can obtain a precise record of
a student's actual work in ALEKS by viewing the student's "Time
and Topic" report.
The students' achievement in ALEKS (as opposed to their use of the
system) may also be used as a component in their final grade. For
information on how to do this, see
the Instructor Manual.