ALEKS Online Math Program

Posted by Michelle Myers on Thursday, August 14, 2014
This summer (2014) I got the privilege of revamping the math curriculum at the Dr. Frances A. Karnes Summer Gifted Studies Program for Academically Talented Youth on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg,MS.  This was my 4th consecutive year as a math instructor for the program, and it was the first time the format of the math program has changed since before I was a student of the program in 1997.  The textbooks and paper tests were replaced with computers and online learning software, ALEKS.

"What is ALEKS?

Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system. ALEKS uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn't know in a course. ALEKS then instructs the student on the topics she is most ready to learn. As a student works through a course, ALEKS periodically reassesses the student to ensure that topics learned are also retained. ALEKS courses are very complete in their topic coverage and ALEKS avoids multiple-choice questions. A student who shows a high level of mastery of an ALEKS course will be successful in the actual course she is taking."   -taken from

Basically, for $20 per month a student takes a diagnostic test consisting of about 30 questions in a chosen math subject, and the software uses artificial intelligence to determine what the student has already mastered and what the student is capable of learning next.  A pie chart is provided showing the major topics needed to be completed.  Within each pie piece the student can choose topics they are ready to learn.  Practice problems and explanations are give for each topic and sub-set.  Once the student has mastered 3 problems correctly in a row, the objective is added to the list of mastered topics.  Periodically the student is given progress tests to assess how much of the new material has been retained.  Topics previously mastered can be removed if a student misses the objective in the progress assessment.  The software can be accessed anywhere there is online access.  

As a math instructor, I was able to assign homework problems, quizzes, and tests to individual students that I created based on their individual learning progress.  These assignments were used to generate grades that could be reported (along with a detailed list of standards mastered) to the student's school in the hopes of being granted credit for the course. Most of my gifted students completed a full course within 100 instructional hours or less with minimal help from me.

As a tutor, using the ALEKS software could be a great way to identify gaps in learning and also to get ahead for students who need to be challenged.   Unlike as an instructor, I would insist of explaining the various objectives one-on-one with my students so they wouldn't have to solely rely on reading the explanations given.  With my help, and the software generating the problems and giving immediate grading, I expect students should learn the material faster.  Students would be able to progress to the next math course, as ALEKS offers a wide range of courses.

A free trial can be a great way to see if this is something your student would find helpful.  Go to for your free trial.

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