Smart ALEKS ... or Not? Teaching Basic Algebra Using an Online Interactive Learning System

By Stillson, Holly; Alsup, John | Mathematics and Computer Education, Fall 2003 | Go to article overview

Smart ALEKS ... or Not? Teaching Basic Algebra Using an Online Interactive Learning System


Stillson, Holly, Alsup, John, Mathematics and Computer Education


The purpose of this study was to explore the effectiveness of teaching Basic Algebra at a university using an online, interactive learning system. This system, ALEKS (Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces), accompanies the textbook, Elementary and Intermediate Algebra: A Unified Approach (Hutchison, Bergman, Hoelzle, 2000). The study was conducted in three Basic Algebra courses in the fall of 2001 at a small university in the Midwest; the same instructor taught all three courses. This research examined the ability of technology to help students practice the algebraic skills necessary to complete their mathematics coursework. Through this online, interactive learning system, students worked at their own pace, enhancing mathematical ideas they already knew and building on this knowledge.

Related Research

New technologies are recognized today as a means for advanced learning. Designing these teaching modes for teaching with a systematic approach will lead to efficiency and effectiveness in education (Vrasidas, 2002). It would be a disservice if students were not instructed how to use technology (McMullin, 2001). McMullin encouraged instructors to concentrate on teaching mathematical ideas and the relationships between these ideas, suggesting that technology should be used not as a means to a quick answer, but to enhance understanding.

A study on the effectiveness of mastery learning showed that the extra time and work involved did not justify the results (Martinez & Martinez, 1999). Martinez and Martinez found that using a master teacher made a significant difference in the class, not time spent on mastery learning. To reduce the extra time spent on mastery learning, they suggested using computers and delegating students to manage details of tracking progress.

An online interactive learning system, ALEKS (Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces), was studied to assess the feasibility of using such a web-based learning system (Canfield, 2001). Canfield's goal was to ascertain the general attitude of the students in his classes. Thirty students from National-Louis University participated in this study. Canfield wrote a five-point questionnaire to be completed by students at the beginning and again at the end of the term. The questions asked were generally about the course itself, with specific questions on how the online ALEKS system was/wasn't helping students. Students reported that they generally learned more with the help of ALEKS and appreciated the feedback and explanations that ALEKS provided, along with being able to work at their own pace. Some students even felt less stress with mathematics because of the online work, voicing that they liked working on material for which they were ready. Canfield viewed ALEKS as a good means to supplement classroom instruction, not as a replacement for a human teacher. Canfield recommended that instructors give written exams along with the online assessments, using ALEKS as a support to the learning happening in the classroom.

Extensive research by Jean-Claude Falmagne, Jean-Claude Doignon, and other scientists of Europe and the United States helped in developing the Knowledge Space Theory (Baker, 2000). The Knowledge Space Theory is a system that efficiently assesses information in domains using specific items consisting of several problems (instances). The Knowledge Structure set for each domain was developed through the careful study of standards, instructional materials, and input from instructors. Students choose items to work on within their 'knowledge state' established through assessments and previous work on the system. A knowledge state contains specific items in a domain that a student is capable of solving. There are approximately 40,000 knowledge states possible in the Basic math portion of ALEKS. Problems worked are open-ended, not multiple-choice, thus eliminating the possibility of guessing an answer. Each student has several paths she/he can take when mastering a mathematical concept. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Smart ALEKS ... or Not? Teaching Basic Algebra Using an Online Interactive Learning System
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.