Chemistry

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ALEKS

The summer assignment in ALEKS will help prepare you for your study in general chemistry.

  WHAT IS ALEKS?

ALEKS (Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces), is an instruction tool based on artificial intelligence.  ALEKS is unique in that it tailors its approach to the needs of each student in the class. ALEKS will rarely force you to “learn” material you already know nor will it try to teach you things for which your foundational skills make you unlikely to succeed. Further, you will periodically have your mastery of the material assessed by ALEKS – ensuring that you are retaining the concepts you have learned.  The biggest advantage of the ALEKS approach is that it is completely individualized. You’ll be reviewing only those topics in which you yourself need help and you won’t be wasting time on topics you’ve already fully mastered.

  WHAT IS THE INITIAL ASSESSMENT?

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 about the content in general chemistry, and your proficiency with basic algebra and mathematical skills. You may encounter questions that you will not know how to do.  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 YOUhow it determines what you already know, and what you are therefore ready to learn!  Failure to complete the initial assessment honestly can result in the following outcomes:

  • Careless or random guessing will give ALEKS the impression that you do not have a solid background in the skills necessary to be successful in CHEM-105 or CHEM-151. 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.
  • If you consult outside resources – such as a textbook, the internet, or a friend – while working through the Initial Assessment, then you will be 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 Objective Completion 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.
  • ALWAYS use the calculator and periodic table provided in ALEKS to avoid rounding or significant figure errors.
  GETTING STARTED WITH ALEKS:

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, or else 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 and to start ALEKS:

  1. Go to http://www.aleks.com to register and later when you need to access ALEKS.
  2. Follow the instructions in the following document.
  3. The course code. Note that all CHEM-105 students regardless of section sign up for the same course, and that CHEM-151 students have a different course. Make sure that you sign up for the correct courseCost for the course is $30 for 90-day access; we will only use ALEKS for the pre-class assignment so the 90-day access should be sufficient.The course codes are given below:
    • For CHEM-105 (Course Name 2017 CHEM 105 Summer Prep): LCDJ4-HJ9PR
    • For CHEM-151 ( Course Name 2017 CHEM 151 Summer Prep): ACEHE-FR3GK

The first time you access ALEKS after registration, you will do a short assignment that will help you learn how to enter your answers into ALEKS, and you will perform your initial assessment to determine what knowledge you have prior to beginning your work in ALEKS. 

Click here for more information about ALEKS.

  THE ALEKS LEARNING MODE:

After you complete the assessment, ALEKS will show you your “Pie.”  This is the central ALEKS report and navigation tool. It’s a pie chart of all the topics in your ALEKS course, arranged by color-coded subject area. Fat slices have a lot of topics in them, and narrower slices have fewer. The darker shading on each slice tells you how much of that slice YOU have mastered.  Your goal in ALEKS Learning Mode is to add topics to this Pie, which will make the dark shading move outward. 

You must master 85% of the topics in the pie (based on your assessment and additional learning) by September 6th in order to receive approx. 3% towards your final course grade.  Losing this 3% could make the difference of a +/– letter grade on your final course grade. 

To demonstrate mastery of a topic, you must select it from the Pie and complete several problems in the topic. The exact number of problems you have to do will depend on your answers. If you get each problem exactly right, you may have to do as few as 2 or 3 problems.  On the other hand, if you start getting problems wrong, ALEKS will assign more problems to ensure you have mastery. ALEKS will tell you at each step how many more problems you must get right to get the topic added to your Pie.

If you don’t know how to do a problem, click the “Explain” button at the bottom of the problem. ALEKS will tell you how to do the problem.  If you need more help while reading the Explanation, you can use the ALEKSPedia, a built-in FAQ-style explanation of chemistry vocabulary, techniques, and concepts. There’s a direct link to the ALEKSPedia from the ALEKS toolbar, above the Pie. Also, within an Explanation, you’ll usually see lots of hyperlinks on words or phrases about which the ALEKSPedia has more information.

  TECHNICAL SUPPORT

No one in the department of chemistry at Ursinus can provide you with competent technical support for ALEKS. Instead, try the following resources on the ALEKS website:

Note: ALEKS support has been very useful to students in the past years.