ALEKS Intro Chem 152A Au2011_final2

ALEKS Intro Chem 152A Au2011_final2 - An Introduction to...

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Unformatted text preview: An Introduction to ALEKS for CHEM 152A (Au 2011) at the University of Washington What is ALEKS? In your CHEM 152A course this quarter, you will use an innovative approach to facilitating the study of chemistry called ALEKS (Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces). ALEKS addresses many of the deficiencies in traditional online homework systems, which rely on an oldfashioned approach to facilitating student learning: the instructor chooses a list of problems from the textbook that are meant to invite thoughtful study on the part of the student. Under this model, every student receives the same set of problems, regardless of his or her background preparation. Some students may not feel sufficiently challenged by the homework problems, while other students may feel overwhelmed. Further, students who complete the assignments without reflecting on conceptual underpinnings of the problems can be lulled into a false sense of security in their knowledge. Simple mastery of the mechanics of a particular kind of problem does not necessarily imply mastery of the concept, or that the concept will be retained longterm. ALEKS, in contrast, is a powerful teaching tool based on artificial intelligence, rather than a static set of homework problems presented digitally. The first time you log in, ALEKS will ask you a series of math and chemistry questions designed to assess exactly what you do and do not know in CHEM 152A and your proficiency with basic algebra and mathematical skills. Once ALEKS determines what you have remembered, what you have forgotten, and what you haven't learned yet, it will begin to teach you items that meet both of the following criteria: 1. You don't already know how to do the item, and 2. You are ready to learn the item, based on what you know already. Note that ALEKS will tailor its approach to the unique needs of each student in the class. ALEKS will rarely force you to "learn" material you already know ensuring that more students are sufficiently challenged, nor will it try to teach you things for which your foundational skills make you unlikely to succeed ensuring that fewer students will feel overwhelmed by the problems. Further, you will periodically have your mastery of the material assessed by ALEKS ensuring that you are retaining the concepts you have learned. How does ALEKS work? There are two "modes" in ALEKS: the Assessment Mode and the Learning Mode. In the Assessment Mode, ALEKS will ask you questions designed to determine what you know and what skills you have. This means you will not receive any feedback from ALEKS during an assessment. The first time you log into ALEKS you will be automatically placed in the assessment mode to complete an Initial Assessment of your knowledge of chemistry and math (see below). In the Learning Mode, you will complete "Objectives" rather than "homework assignments." An ALEKS Objective will contain a list of topics relevant to the current lecture discussions and assigned reading. When you choose a particular topic to learn, ALEKS will present you with a series of practice problems on that topic. The problems will have enough variability that you will only be able to get them consistently correct by understanding the core principle defining the topic. Once you can consistently get the problems for a given topic correct, ALEKS considers that you have learned the topic, and you may then choose another topic to learn. Periodically, ALEKS will ask you to complete a Progress Assessment. These are intended to gauge how well you are retaining the material you have learned. If ALEKS determines that you are shaky in some areas that you covered in a previous topic or Objective, ALEKS will require you to relearn that material before you can move on to topics that build on those concepts. How do I get graded in ALEKS? Your grade for the ALEKS portion of the course will be based on your performance on the Objectives (50%) and final Assessment (50%). A grade will populate the ALEKS Gradebook corresponding to the percentage mastery you demonstrated by the deadline for a given Objective. Once a grade for an Objective has been recorded, it will never change, even if you later forget some of the material and are forced by ALEKS to go back and relearn it. Therefore, your score on an Objective is determined by your alltime personal best performance, not by an average performance over the quarter. Progress Assessments factor in to your grade indirectly, in that they will determine how much time you will be able to devote to completing an Objective by the deadline. As mentioned above, the Assessments track your retention of the material covered in the course; if an Assessment determines that you have not retained a particular topic, ALEKS will make you go back and relearn it before it will let you move on to learning other topics. If you have to spend three hours relearning old material, that is three hours that you can't spend working on the next Objective. After the last objective you will take an final Assessment. Your percentage score on this assessment will be your grade for this component of ALEKS. What happens during the Initial Assessment? The first time you log in, ALEKS will automatically place you in the Assessment Mode, where it will ask you a series of math and chemistry questions designed to assess exactly what you do and do not know in chemistry and basic math. The Initial Assessment is meant to be a snapshot of what you understand about chemistry at the start of this course. You will encounter questions that you will not know how to do...don't take this personally. This is just ALEKS trying to determine the edges of your understanding so that it will know where to begin teaching you. It is extremely important that you complete the initial assessment carefully and honestly! This is how ALEKS finds out about YOU, how it determines what you already know, and what you are therefore ready to learn. Always read and follow the onscreen instructions very carefully. IT IS A WASTE OF TIME to play games with the ALEKS assessments. For example... If you complete the Initial Assessment carelessly or answer randomly, you will give ALEKS the impression that you do not have a solid background in the skills necessary to be successful in CHEM 152A. This means you will waste time later because ALEKS will force you to work through material you already know and don't really need to review. Therefore, it will take you much longer than necessary to complete the Objectives and earn your points. Conversely, if you consult outside resources such as a textbook, the internet, or a friend while working through the Initial Assessment, then you will give ALEKS the impression that you have a very strong background in math and chemistry. This means that when you enter the Learning Mode, ALEKS will try to teach you things you are not really ready to learn. The Progress Assessments will discover this, and you'll end up spending far more time in the Learning Mode than necessary. Again, this means it will take you much longer than necessary to complete the Objectives and earn your points. NEVER click the "I don't know" button during any ALEKS assessment unless you truly have no idea how to do the problem. Otherwise, ALEKS will think you don't know a bunch of things you actually do know and take you way back and make you "learn" them. The Initial Assessment should take about an hour. Your professor will be able to see how long it took to complete your assessment. If your time to complete the assessment is significantly longer than an hour, your instructor will start you over with a brand new initial assessment. NOTE: To avoid rounding errors, always use ALEKS's calculator and periodic table! Getting Started with ALEKS You must complete your Initial Assessment and first Objective by 9:00 pm Friday, October 7th. ALEKS IS VERY UNFRIENDLY TO PROCRASTINATORS. ALEKS was designed by psychologists who specialize in learning, who know that procrastinating until the night before an assignment is due and then cramming until the wee hours is not a good way to learn. You can't do ALEKS that way. You must put in some time every day, otherwise you will fall so far behind on basic topics that you won't have time to complete the Objectives. It is impossible to earn a good score in ALEKS by cramming all night right before the due date. To register as an ALEKS user: 1. Go to the ALEKS web site at 2. Click on the link marked "SIGN UP NOW" (upper left corner of the screen). 3. The next screen contains portals for purchasing two types of ALEKS accounts (see screen shot below). Sign up for the "K12 Higher Education" account type by entering the 10character course code YCUV6E66LE in the field indicated by the red arrow below: NOTE: If you accidentally sign up for the Individual ALEKS account type, any work you complete in ALEKS cannot be transferred to the CHEM 152A ALEKS course. This means that you will have to sign up for the "K12 Higher Education" account type and pay a second access fee to ALEKS. 4. Confirm the enrollment information for CHEM 152A on the next screen. 5. The next screen will contain a link to a secure server where you can purchase a 20character access code for ALEKS. There are three levels of ALEKS access available: 1 quarter ($30), 3 quarters ($70), and 4 quarters ($90). If you plan to taking 152 & 162 at U@, we recommend that you purchase access one quarter at a time as it is the most cost effective. 6. After you purchase and enter your access code you will be asked to provide your full name, your email address, and your UW student ID number. Please provide all the information requested, even the information that is listed as optional. You must enter your UW ID number to receive credit for your work. 7. On the next screen you will receive your ALEKS login name and a temporary password, and you will have the chance to change your temporary password. We recommend that you change your temporary password. 8. After you change your password, ALEKS will check your computer to see if you have the latest version of the ALEKS Java plugin installed. Your browser will use the ALEKS plugin when you are logged on to ALEKS. It is inactive at other times, and does not do anything except provide functionality for ALEKS. Installation of the ALEKS plugin is automatic. When you access ALEKS, it will automatically check to see if the current plugin is installed on your computer. If it isn't, the plugin will be downloaded, and you will be asked for permission to install the plugin on your system. The following browsers are supported: PC Explorer 7.0+, Firefox 3+, Chrome 4+; Mac Safari 3+, Firefox 3+. Note: The computers in the Chemistry Study Center (BAG 330) already have the plugin installed. The center is open and available for student use Mon Fri from 8:30 a.m. 4:30 p.m. 9. After the plugin has been installed, you will learn how to input mathematical and chemical answers into ALEKS. This should take approximately 10 minutes. 10. Once you have completed the input tutorial, ALEKS will prompt you to complete the Initial Assessment. You may choose to complete the Initial Assessment at a later time, but you should plan on about one hour of continuous time to complete this assessment. Using ALEKS Without Installing the Java Plugin If you don't feel comfortable installing the plugin on your personal computer, it is recommended that you use the computers in the Chemistry Study Center. If you need to work on ALEKS outside the study center's hours, or if you need to access ALEKS in the library, a computer lab, or another place where you don't have authorization to install software, use the ALEKS "streaming" plugin. To use the "streaming" plugin, follow these steps: 1. Go to and simply log in to or register with ALEKS as you normally would. 2. Upon first login, ALEKS will automatically retrieve the ALEKS plugin from the server and store it in the browser's "cache" memory. You don't need to grant any special user rights or privileges on a computer for this installation to occur. 3. The plugin will be available in the browser's cache until an updated version is available on the ALEKS server or until the browser's cache is cleared. 4. Important: When you restart the browser and return to ALEKS, you must go to If you do not add "/plugin" to the end of the URL, ALEKS will attempt to install the standard ALEKS plugin on the computer instead of using the streaming version of the plugin. Technical Support No one in the Department of Chemistry at UW can provide you with technical support for ALEKS. Do not contact your instructor or your TA with operational questions about ALEKS...we will not be able to help you. Instead, try the following resources on the ALEKS website: 1. Frequently Asked Questions: 2. User's Guide: 3. Troubleshooting: 4. Email the Support Team: ...
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