ALEKS evolving :)

Posted on August 28, 2015

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The first couple of semesters with ALEKS, I noticed that even though students didn’t *like* it, they did it… and Pavlov and SKinner were grinning in their graves because yes, they would get pretty much fixated on Getting Their Pieces Of Pie.
Last year … it just wasn’t as true.
ALEKS has made some revisions. The Big Fat One that I like most is when they give you the first problem in a set, it includes their explanation. (Alas, it’s entirely procedural — but our courses use ALEKS for practice, not instruction, and our instruction is conceptual and usually very good.)
The feedback is also just … nicer and more encouraging. It’s got nicer colors and you get encouraging words and a graphic showing progress instead of telling you you’re correct and that if you answer X more problems correctly (and if you miss one, the number goes up), you’ll be permitted to move on in life. I don’t know if they kept the progress parameters the same — it just seems less penalizing to get one wrong.
SO, it’s still the first week but I’m seeing more of that hormonal response to Get To The Reward… and not just from my slightly OCD types. Now, those folks are a tad overwhelmed at their being over 300 lessons in the semester (even though they’re the ones likely to have already gotten credit for mastery based on their initial assessment from oh, 90 or 100 of them).
And I hate, loathe and despise that in this first week is the horrendous problem set of mixed adding and subtracting of integer word problems where you have to remember all the regular rules, *and* that if they ask “how much higher” or “how much lower,” that your answer has to be positive even if the relationship isn’t. There will be a bunch of students with the totally unhealthy kind of “struggle” going on the next day or three, and some of them will decide that this is too much for them and drop the course.
This is also where I sort of almost wish I were The Teacher since then I could link to things like … my video on how to do the particular problems I mentioned above… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cS3RSCl5Pss

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