8.1 The ALEKS Educational Paradigm
ALEKS is based on the understanding that students learn mathematics in
different ways, at differing speeds. Starting from an accurate assessment
of their current knowledge, students in ALEKS are only offered what
they have shown themselves ready to learn. (The term "knowledge check"
is synonymous with assessment.) They therefore experience less frustration
from material that is too difficult and boredom from material that is
too easy. Students are engaged in the learning process, and grow in
confidence and independence as they use the program. ALEKS
periodically reassesses students to test their retention of new knowledge,
and if they forget what was once learned, ALEKS smoothly and
efficiently guides them through necessary review and reinforcement. With
time and persistence, every ALEKS student will progress toward mastery,
in a way clearly visible to both student and
It is normal for students to be in disparate knowledge states; ALEKS
puts this information clearly at the instructor's disposal. The relative
mastery attained by students appears clearly from the "Learning Progress
Since Latest Assessment" report in the Instructor Module. ALEKS
does not require students to progress as a unified group. ALEKS
will permit a student to work on any topic in the category "ready to
learn," a list of topics that the student has not yet learned, but
has demonstrated (within ALEKS) the readiness to begin learning.
Students using ALEKS will experience new independence and excitement
in learning. Instructors also may find different opportunities for
optimizing their role in the learning process, with a greatly expanded
ability to accurately monitor and effectively promote their students'
learning. The role of the instructor is critical in providing structure,
support, and reward for the students' effective use of ALEKS.
If ALEKS is used properly, the instructor's scope for individual
coaching and small-group instruction will be greatly expanded, as will
the freedom to teach mathematics in a broader and richer way.
ALEKS gives the instructor a set of powerful resources. Various
styles of use of ALEKS are possible. The following should be
understood as suggestions, designed to give instructors a sense of the
possibilities offered by ALEKS's extensive library of tools.