Math Success at Smith: Using ALEKS
Many career paths and majors involve mathematics and/or quantitative skills (even seemingly non-mathematical ones such as computer graphics animation, journalism, or environmental activism). Math, like any other skill, can be developed through practice just like a muscle. Regardless of current comfort level in mathematics, you can develop an individualized training program to build those muscles, and ultimately achieve your career goals.
The Math Success at Smith team is a group of faculty and staff across the college who are interested in retaining students' interest in STEM and enhancing their persistence in STEM courses by supporting the students and providing resources. All of us are passionate about helping students succeed! Please contact the team through email@example.com.
One of the first steps in success is understanding where your math skills are now. As an entering first year student, you will have access to an online adaptive learning tool called ALEKS. An explanatory video is below. Approximately 88% of students who used the ALEKS assessment thought is was worthwhile, and of those who used the interactive review modules, 85% thought it was a good way to refresh or review certain math concepts.
Make sure you access the ALEKS tool through a computer instead of a phone.
Video Introduction about ALEKS at Smith
Start Using ALEKS
Click this ALEKS link to start. Make sure you access the ALEKS tool through a computer instead of a phone. If you have any questions, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and someone from our team will respond to you within two working days.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have a question that isn't listed here, please send an email to email@example.com and someone from our team will respond to you within two working days. Make sure you access ALEKS through a computer instead of a phone.
Questions you may have before you start using ALEKS:
What is ALEKS?
ALEKS is an online adaptive learning tool that we are using as part of an exciting new program at Smith. (The acronym stands for Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Space.) When you log in to ALEKS you will be given a tutorial on how to take the initial assessment and a tutorial on how to use the built in calculator. The initial ALEKS assessment consists a set of 30 math questions to assess your current skills. You will have up to one week to complete those questions, but we generally estimate that it will take 2-3 hours. That will then open up a set of learning modules on topics that might be helpful to review. You will have access to those learning modules throughout the fall.
Do I need a calculator?
No, you do not. ALEKS has a built-in calculator that will pop up when you need it (and you will be given instructions about how to use it before you start using ALEKS).
How do I get started with ALEKS?
First, make sure you access ALEKS through a computer instead of a phone. (If you access ALEKS through a smartphone you are more likely to enter answers incorrectly, which will throw off the feedback it gives you.) When ready, click on the Start using ALEKS link on the navigation bar on the right. Log in using your Smith email and password, and you are ready to start! After the tutorial, you’ll be asked to answer 30 math questions, which might take about 2-3 hours to complete. Based on your answers, ALEKS will design a set of learning modules tailored specifically for you.
Why am I being asked to use ALEKS?
You were chosen for this program because you indicated interest in a major or pre-health program that uses calculus. Of all the students expressing such interest, half were randomly selected for early access to ALEKS over the summer. The other half will have access to ALEKS when they arrive at Smith. Our goal is to see when access to ALEKS is most useful for students.
What kind of feedback does ALEKS give me?
When you finish answering the questions, you will see a “learning pie,” which shows math topics that you have currently mastered. The number of mastered topics that ALEKS shows is unimportant to us and says nothing about your potential to succeed at Smith; the feedback that will be useful to you is the learning pie. You can work with us to use the learning pie to guide review and connect you with appropriate resources and opportunities at Smith.
An example of ALEKS feedback is feedback is shown here:
How will Smith use the feedback ALEKS gives me?
We are not going to use your individual ALEKS results; they are a resource for you and we can help you to use them. We encourage you to bring your results to a Math Success at Smith team member to help you design an individualized path to success in your quantitative courses. To contact someone on the team, please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
How should I prepare for ALEKS?
You don’t need to prepare for ALEKS. The point is to get a snapshot of where you are now.
Is ALEKS right for me if I ... Feel very strong in math? Feel very weak in math? Have AP/IB/Other math placement results?
Yes! The purpose of ALEKS is to help all students interested in STEM careers navigate the resources at Smith. Regardless of your math preparation or test scores, you will find ALEKS useful.
Is ALEKS mandatory for all incoming first-year students?
No, but we strongly recommend it. ALEKS can help you get started off on good footing in your quantitative courses.
Will my ALEKS results be used for placement in math courses at Smith?
No, Smith does not use ALEKS for course placement.
What if I can't answer some questions while using ALEKS for the first time?
No problem -- there is no penalty for incorrectly answering a question. You should expect to see some questions on topics you are not familiar with; on such questions it is appropriate to answer “I don't know.” However, when you see questions based on familiar topics, give those your best shot.
I have further questions about ALEKS. Whom should I contact?
You can email questions to email@example.com.
Questions you may have after you start using ALEKS:
How do I interpret my learning pie? Did I “pass”?
The learning pie shows you topics that you have already mastered, the suggested topics, and the number of topics a student has learned using ALEKS.
As you use the learning modules, the learning pie changes to reflect your progress and mastery. You can also contact the ALEKS team at Smith to develop a personalized plan for success in quantitative courses at Smith. Remember, there is no grade, score or pass / fail criterion in this case. The feedback is simply a roadmap for growth and mastery in math.
Will my ALEKS score be used for placement in math courses at Smith?
No, ALEKS is not a placement test. You can and should still pursue whatever major, career, and other plans you want to. ALEKS is a tool to give you some useful information on how best to succeed with those plans.
I think I did poorly in ALEKS? What do I do next?
Do not worry. ALEKS is not a placement test. You can and should still pursue whatever major, career, and other plans you want to. ALEKS is simply a tool to give you some useful information on how best to succeed with those plans. Your ALEKS feedback is just a snapshot of your current math skills. As with any other skill (such as playing an instrument, learning jujitsu, riding a unicycle) your math skills and not static or immutable; they will improve with training and practice.
When you arrive at Smith we encourage you to bring your results to an ALEKS team member who can help you make a personalized plan for success. You may also do some review over the summer using the ALEKS learning modules. These modules are not required; they are one of the many tools that you can use to review topics.
Will my ALEKS feedback affect my choice of major or career?
Absolutely not! The point of ALEKS is not to steer you towards or away from any career or major, but to help you succeed in whatever goals you want to pursue.
I think I did great in ALEKS. What do I do next?
Take a look at some of the learning modules available through ALEKS. Skills tend to get rusty without practice, and the learning modules provide a great way to keep them sharp.
Why did my friend and I get different questions?
ALEKS tailors questions based on responses from the user. There will be considerable variation between students.
If you have further questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Seelye Hall, Room 207, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063
Questions? Contact us | July 29, 2019