ALEKS (Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces) is a Web-based learning system covering a wide range of full courses in math for K-12 and higher education, with courses from 3rd through 12th grade correlated with state and Common Core standards. Its QuickTables program is intended for math fact fluency for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. In addition, ALEKS offers specialized prep programs for AP courses, which includes chemistry and physics. It also offers a general chemistry course for college students.
Using artificial intelligence to assess what students know--and don’t--ALEKS then guides them toward and through adaptive instruction, with periodic re-assessment along the way. Its nifty artificial intelligence engine uses “Knowledge Space Theory” to gauge students’ proficiency in a subject using a small number of questions, and manages to quickly and continuously determine what students know and can do--relying not on multiple-choice questions but on open-ended input from students themselves. (However, it’s incumbent upon the teacher to ensure students have a solid checklist of concepts to work on, lest they jump around from topic to topic, since the software doesn’t mandate a particular learning sequence.) The resulting pie charts show students (as well as parents or teachers) their mastery level and what areas they need help with. These pie charts are updated as students progress through the course’s embedded assessments, with historical progress reports available to teachers and parents (but pie charts themselves not archived per se). Unfortunately, the system doesn’t make it easy for students to go back and review problems they’ve already completed.
The original system was developed several decades ago with National Science Foundation funds by software engineers, mathematicians at cognitive scientists at New York University and the University of California, Irvine, and has since been used by millions of students in thousands of schools. More recently, the offering has expanded beyond K-12 to serve higher education students (through a partnership with McGraw Hill Higher Education), and has also added specialized prep programs for several AP courses. It is also extremely popular among home-schooled students.
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