Merced College


Merced College

Why did you choose alta?

I chose to adopt alta for two main reasons.  The first one is the price. I use alta with the OpenStax Prealgebra text and my students continually tell me how much they appreciate the low cost option.  The second reason is the mastery-based assignments. In the past, I would see students using online homework checking for hints on how to solve a problem and attempt to force their numbers into the problem without really understanding how to work through the problem on their own.

How do you use alta in your course?

I use it in my face-to-face class as a way for students to apply the skills they learn in class at home.  It is required for these students to do online homework. In this class, the alta homework assignments count for 20% of the total grade.

I also use alta as the main source of instruction in my online class.  I assign both homework and quizzes through alta and this represents 50% of the total grade.  When using alta in my online course, I have a much higher rate of completion.

How did alta impact student performance in your course?

I compared my online Prealgebra course last semester to the previous semester (fall 2017) and my first semester (Spring 2018) using alta.  

The only change I made between the two semesters was switching to alta. I used the same grading scale, topics, number of assignments and quizzes.  

While the rate of completion and high grades remained about the same for the face-to-face classes in both semesters, the switch to alta resulted in a notable increase of 15% for passing grades. The change between online classes was more significant, showing a 26% increase in the rate of completion, as well as a 13% increase in passing grades, and a 30% increase to the frequency of A and B grades.

How effective was alta in helping your students achieve proficiency?

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

What do you like most about alta?

There are several. I like the quality of the Alta assessments and the Alta homework.  I love that there are videos integrated in there that the students can access. I like the instruction that they can read through built right into the assignment; they don’t have to flip through either a hard copy of a book or multiple tabs on their computer to get all the ideas. They can just keep scrolling down. I feel they understood the material better at the end.

Another great thing about alta is how easily it integrates with Canvas.


For instructors considering alta,  look at all of the "extras" that alta offers students.  For me, that was the mastery-based learning. Initially, I was spending too much time comparing alta to the program we had used on campus for years.  I made a list of all the things that alta didn't have that I was used to. Once I threw that list away, I began to see all the tools that alta does have.

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.