Struggle With Math? ALEKS Might Help (Originally published November 27, 2009)

I am borderline handicapped when it comes to my comprehension of math.  I don’t say that to be funny or politically incorrect; it’s true.  The only reason I passed Geometry and Algebra II in high school was because I “showed effort,” and my teacher was incredibly nice.  I was dreading math in college, and my fears came true when I failed College Algebra.  Twice.

The second failure of the class happened at the end of the Spring ‘09 semester.  I thought I had it down, and then bam!  I choked big time on the final, dropping my grade from a 62% to a 58%, and since my instructor was a student teacher, she didn’t have the final say on our grades.  Instead, her supervisor (who had never met us or seen the effort we put into the class) decided to give me the F.

However, my teacher gave me a great idea: there was a new College Algebra class, called ALEKS, my school was going to experiment with in the fall.  It was entirely online, self-paced, and best of all, YOU CANNOT FAIL IT (barring a couple things).  I signed up for it and I’m extremely pleased with it.

The way it works is this: there is a pie chart with 100 topics.  As you complete each topic (usually three or four correct answers mean you “master” a topic), you can move on to other slices of the pie.  The only stipulations are that you complete either five hours a week or “master” 12 topics.  If you run into any trouble, there is a button called “Explain” on each question that gives you a step-by-step rundown of how to do each problem.  There are three tests (you have to sign up for a day and time to take them in a computer lab on campus), and you have to keep taking each one until you receive a 70%, going back to that whole “not failing” thing I mentioned earlier.

ALEKS is wonderful.  If you have problems with math and want an alternative to the classroom setting that so often fails people like me, I highly recommend you check it out and refer the math departments at your school to this website.



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