ALEKS - Assessment and Learning

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 instructor.
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.