Idaho State University using ALEKS system to help current and future students

POCATELLO—Idaho State University recently started using the ALEKS math system to help current and future ISU students save money and take fewer math courses.

ALEKS, which stands for Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces, is a web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system. The idea for implementing the ALEKS system at ISU is to expedite the time it takes to get a degree because often times, math is a barrier that keeps students from achieving their goals as quickly as they might like. Bob Fisher, a professor of mathematics, said the ALEKS system targets student’s knowledge, looks to move students forward through the lessons and helps fix student literacy problems in math.

“Our goal is for students to step on to campus and not need any prerequisite math courses before they are able to jump right into their program,” said Fisher.

Fisher said ISU will be helping local high schools use the ALEKS system to prepare its students for college math courses. The Department of Mathematics and Statistics recently hosted a training for 30 high school teachers to teach them about a pilot program for students who are at risk for not going on to college and potentially having to take several remedial math courses.

“Introducing ALEKS into high schools is establishing the direct link from high school to post-secondary schooling,” said Mindy Singer, the head of math instruction in the Idaho Falls School District. “It provides a long-term goal with many short-term goals along the way.”

Fisher said math lecturer Randa Kress brought up the idea of using the ALEKS system after seeing a need to shorten the time frame for ISU students taking remedial courses.

“Randa has been brilliant and deserves a lot of credit,” Fisher said. “I am excited to integrate this program into our schools and help students move through our program.”

Fisher said the motivation for this program also comes from a pilot program at Utah Valley University over 100,000 high school students were able to participate in the ALEKS program for $17 per student. The program has grown in Utah and now every student in the state has access to the math placement program. The Idaho pilot that is being run through ISU’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics will cost $17 per student at participating schools.

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