California State University, Sacramento

General Chemistry

California State University, Sacramento

Why did you choose alta?

I was looking for an online component that would more effectively engage my students. I wanted a system that was adaptive in nature, yet not so overwhelming that it caused students to disengage from using the online system. Also, with my previous system, students were easily able to find the answers to most of the problems assigned online.

How do you use alta in your course?

I assign alta as homework before the lecture.  The assignments in alta are tied to the lecture schedule with the goal that students will keep up with the reading and homework assignments making the lecture more effective. Alta represents 10% of the total grade.

What do you like most about alta?

Ease of use for both the instructor and the student.

How did alta impact student performance in your course?

My results show students using alta have a significantly higher success rate than those using the system I used previously.  I ran a side-by-side comparison in two large (~140 students each) first semester general chemistry lectures. The results were:

I had very positive comments from the students with regards to alta, especially from those who were repeating and had used the previous system. Students praised the feedback that alta provided when they struggled with a topic or a problem.

How effective was alta in helping your students achieve proficiency?

To measure alta’s impact on student proficiency, we analyzed the results that NAME’s students achieved working in alta.

These results indicate that a high percentage of struggling students, and students overall, reach mastery of learning objectives using alta.

What advice would you give instructors considering adopting alta to help them get started?

My advice is to not be afraid of your perceived lack of control over the many different pathways students might take. Adaptive learning systems like alta encourage students to understand concepts and not rely on memorization of a process. Also, since each student works their individual assignments, the system mitigates cheating and copying. You also won’t have the problem of overloading students with work they don’t need. Students who are excelling in the course don’t need to wade through material they have already mastered. Students who need help will be given help in the form of adaptive assignments as needed, including remediation.

Knewton's 2017 Student Data Insights

To measure alta’s impact on mastery across instructors, institutions and disciplines, Knewton analyzed the results of more than 10,000 students who used alta in 2017. The high-level findings:

  • Students using alta demonstrate proficiency by completing assignments at high rates.
  • Completing alta assignments is directly correlated with better performance on summative assessments.
  • Alta provides the biggest benefit to students who need it most.