ALEKS Constructs as Predictors of High School Mathematics Achievement for Struggling Students

Published: 20-01-2021| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/kw8rby2frk.1
Contributor:
Nadine Mills

Description

The purpose of this study was to determine what factors of the Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces (ALEKS), an ITS, are predictive of struggling learners’ performance in a blended-learning Algebra 1 course at an inner-city technical high school located in the northeastern U.S. Three variables (student retention, engagement time, and the ratio of topics mastered to topics practiced) were used to predict the degree of association on the criterion variable (mathematics competencies), as measured by final course progress grades in algebra, and the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSATm) math scores. A correlational predictive design was applied to assess the data of a purposive sample of 265 struggling students at the study site; multiple regression analysis was also used to investigate the predictability of these variables. Findings suggest that engagement time and the ratio of mastered to practiced topics were significant predictors of final course progress grades. Nevertheless, these factors were not significant contributors in predicting PSATm score. Retention was identified as the only statistically significant predictor of PSATm score. Accordingly, the following broad research questions were addressed: RQ1: Is engagement time, retention, and the ratio of topics mastered to topics practiced (in ALEKS) for students identified as at risk for failure in mathematics predictive of final Algebra 1 course progress grades? RQ2: Is engagement time, retention, and the ratio of topics mastered to topics practiced (in ALEKS) for students identified as at risk for failure in mathematics predictive of PSAT math scores? Accordingly, the following alternative hypotheses were tested: Ha1: Engagement time, retention, and the ratio of topics mastered to topics practiced (in ALEK) will be significant predictors of final Algebra 1 course progress grades, α ≤ 0.05. Ha2: Engagement time, retention, and the ratio of topics mastered to topics practiced (in ALEK) will be significant predictors of PSAT math scores, α ≤ 0.05. The null hypotheses were the following: H01: Engagement time, retention, and the ratio of topics mastered to topics practiced (in ALEK) will not be significant predictors of final Algebra 1 course progress grades, α ≤ 0.05. H02: Engagement time, retention, and the ratio of topics mastered to topics practiced (in ALEK) will not be significant predictors of PSAT math scores, α ≤ 0.05.

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Engagement Time (depicted as ET in data tables) is a predictor variable that was extracted from the ALEKS database. This continuous variable reflects the combined (active and inactive) time logged in the program and is recorded in hours and minutes each time an individual logs in and out of the ITS during instructional (during school) and non-instructional (outside of school) periods. Retention (depicted as ren in the data tables) is a continuous predictor variable that was acquired from the ALEKS database. Retention cannot be obtained directly from the software program. Nevertheless, the ALEKS program recognizes student’s mastery of learned topics after they have demonstrated their competency of learned objectives on a knowledge assessment. The software records when students initiate a knowledge assessment and tracks students’ progress between each assessment. The author of this study collected these scores and calculated the average percentages in mastered and learned topics. These retention percentage scores were tabulated and an average estimate was established for each student. The Ratio of Topics Mastered to Topics Practiced (mtop) is a continuous predictor variable that was obtained from two factors within the ALEKS program (mastered and practiced topics). This continuous variable is an attribute that was applied by Dani and Nasser (2016) to define the learning patterns of students who worked in the ALEKS ITS platform. The variable represents an abbreviation of mastered to practiced topics and denotes the measure of students ability to learn independently. The participants total mastered and practiced topics were extracted for their respective years in the ALEKS Algebra 1 course (from August 2015 to June 2016, and August 2016 to June 2017). The combined totals were recorded as total topics mastered (ttm) and total topics practiced (ttp) in the data tables. The quotient of students’ ttm to ttp were evaluated to establish a ratio of students’ mastered to practiced topics. The PSAT, which was a continuous criterion variable in the study, is a standardized aptitude test that is administered by the College Board to assess the general intelligence of students in Grades 9 and 10. Students’ Final Progress Grades (SFPG) is a continuous criterion variable that was ascertained from the school’s guidance department. Math instructors at the location of this investigation, required learners to write notes when working in the ALEKS ITS, complete a minimum of 7 to 10 topic and 7 to 10 hours per week, and to complete the ALEKS districts goal assessments with a 70% minimum score. These teachers coalesced the scores for these requirements into one final percent average that reflected the students final progress grades for the course. The latter was used to denote the students final progress grades that ranged from 0 to 100.