Required Equals Results: Ginny Powell, Georgia Perimeter College




“Each student gets individualized attention, both from ALEKS and from me.”


What impact did requiring digital have on your students’ success?
It’s hard to compare, as we changed our course delivery at the same time we went to ALEKS. But when we used other software and made them optional, many students never bought the code. Now that everyone does, I notice more mathematical discussion. They know what they are working on, because they have to choose a topic by name (e.g., graphing a line given an equation in slope-intercept form, or graphing a line given an equation in standard form. Now they know the difference between the two forms!).


Which digital tools do you use in your class?
ALEKS.


When did you begin using digital tools in your classes and what did it replace, if anything?
I began using ALEKS in an Emporium Model in 2010. Previously, we used MyMathLab as a homework supplement to lecture classes.


When did you decide to require them as part of the course grade?
We have required ALEKS since we started using it. In my experience, students will only buy materials and do work if it is counted in their grade.


What percentage of your course grade is made up by digital tools like Connect and LearnSmart?
Currently, 70% of our course grade is directly from ALEKS. That includes assessments in ALEKS, the pie and worksheets generated in ALEKS. That percentage has been growing over the semesters as we learn how to best use the software.


Why is it important to require digital rather than make it optional?
Anything optional is treated as unimportant. If you have found a digital component that you think is worthwhile, then show that by requiring it. Making it optional indicates that you are unsure and it is maybe kind of helpful but not really… It makes you seem wishy-washy.


What advice do you have for instructors who are incorporating digital into their courses for the first time?
Be sure the software you are using complements your class model, instead of clashing. Don’t try to use a homework automation system to teach and don’t use a teaching tool as only a homework automation system. This may mean major changes and may scare you, but it will be worth it for the students. It’s not about you.


What are you able to do now that you couldn’t before you required digital?
I’m able to get to my students where they are. ALEKS pinpoints what each student knows already and what they are ready to do next. No more lecturing to a room full of glassy eyes because they either have no idea what I’m talking about, or are way past me. Each student gets individualized attention, both from ALEKS and from me.


Check out the full Required Equals Results series to hear from other instructors about their experiences.

The Connect Team

By The Connect Team  |  November 18 2013

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