Park University - Parkville Campus

Chemistry

Park University - Parkville Campus

Why did you choose alta?

I chose alta because it levels the playing field for students.  It provides support so that I can engage all students in the classroom, and allows us more time to spend on chemistry topics without having to explain algebraic manipulations.  If a student is struggling with mathematical problems, alta quickly diagnoses that and presents the student with instruction geared towards that deficiency.

How do you use alta in your course?

Before students come to class, I ask that they go to the assignments that cover the topics we will be covering in class, and go through all the “related instruction” in alta. This is similar to asking them to read a chapter before coming to class, but instead the material is interactive and chunked so it’s more engaging for students. After coming to class and lecture/discussion, students complete the assigned mastery assignments as homework. At this point, those who struggle with learning objectives receive help and remediation in alta.

Alta formative and summative work is worth 40% of the total grade; the remainder of the grade is divided among exams and labs.

How did alta impact student performance in your course?

Overall, students who completed the alta mastery assignments earned a higher grade in their exams, as the graph below shows.  

I also surveyed the class; 89% of students acknowledged a positive relationship between completing proficiency assignments and performing well in the course.

How effective was alta in helping your students achieve proficiency?

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

What do you like most about alta?

The quality of the content and student interaction.  Alta provides quality content without the added cost of a physical textbook.  Compared to when I began teaching 20 years ago, fewer students purchase or rent the textbook, and even fewer than that ever open it.  Because alta provides content embedded in small digital chunks and video clips, the students are actually reading and watching, and getting immediate feedback on their understanding of the material. Alta wraps everything into one convenient bundle, at a fraction of the cost of a conventional textbook.

I also love the dashboard, and its notifications of struggling students. I can monitor the time students spend on a particular concept.  If a majority are spending more time on a topic than they should, I look more closely within the assignment, drilling down on the particular part of the concept that needs to be revisited in lecture.  If one or two students are struggling, I can email them and schedule time to clear up misconceptions. The low stakes mastery assignments allow them to grapple with the material without devastating their grade.

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

Alta is very easy to use, and the Knewton team is amazing.  I rarely have a question that isn’t answered within 30 minutes.  The team is extremely patient and knowledgeable.

When choosing assignments, I like to “Preview as student,” and work through the assignments myself for consistency in problem format presentation.  Obviously, I do not see every question a student may see, but it’s a good enough sample to get the idea.

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.