SPChem

ALEKS Summer Preparation Program for Chemistry (SP-Chem) FAQ

Participation in SP-Chem is by invitation only. The online ALEKS Summer Preparatory Chemistry Program (SP-Chem) has been approved by the UC Davis Chemistry Department as an alternative to the placement exam(s) and/or workload chemistry (WLD 41C) as a prerequisite for enrollment in CHE 2A. By successfully completing the SP-Chem course to a minimum of 95% mastery by September 21, 2015, you will have satisfied the prerequisite requirement to remain enrolled in CHE 2A. The SP-Chem program is sponsored by the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education and led by the iAMSTEM Hub at UC Davis. The iAMSTEM Hub is a university wide STEM education effort working to improve undergraduate STEM student success.

IMPORTANT:
As much as we’d like to give students credit instantly once 95% mastery is reached the first time, it is not possible to track individual fluctuations above and below that threshold. We are collecting Pie Mastery data once per week for intermediate reporting to the Chemistry Department. The final report will be made after the SP-Chem course closes. Students need to be at ≥95% mastery when the course closes on September 21 at 11:59pm in order to ensure the prerequisite for CHE 2A is satisfied. Your “Grade” will show in the gradebook at this time. After the course endpoint, you will still have access to ALEKS to review topics until your account expires.

Frequently Asked Questions

General Chemistry is required for many majors on campus. Course requirements for each degree program (major) are outlined in the course catalog. You may not be required to take General Chemistry (CHE 2 series) depending upon your declared or intended major, the courses you want to enroll in, or your career goals. If you are unsure about what classes you will need to take for your major, you should talk with an academic adviser.

  1. How much will it cost me?

The SP-Chem course is free of cost to you. All you need is access to a computer with internet access. Computer system requirements can be found here.

  1. What supplies do I need?

All you need is access to a computer with internet access. Computer system requirements can be found here.

You may, at times, also want to consult a chemistry textbook, or the UC Davis ChemWiki.

  1. When is the deadline to sign up? Deadline to finish?

If you are interested in taking SP-Chem, you follow the instructions to register for www.aleks.com using the course code provided to you in your invitation letter as soon as possible. However, after you register, you can start the course whenever you would like, and complete it at your own pace. We recommend starting early to allow as much time as possible. You can always go back and review! By successfully completing the ALEKS course to a minimum of 95% mastery by September 21, 2015 you will have satisfied the prerequisite requirement to enroll in CHE 2A.

  1. Do I get units or priority registration?

No. The SP-Chem course does not provide any units of credit for UC Davis. Additionally, the SP-Chem course does not change your standing for course registration priority. All students are allowed to enroll in CHE 2A, even if prerequisite requirements have not been satisfied. Students who have not satisfied the prerequisite requirement by the time the quarter starts will be administratively dropped from CHE 2A.

  1. How is the SP-Chem Course Graded?

In a traditional class, your course grade depends on your scores on individual assignments. The ALEKS system does not “grade” in this way. Your goal is to fill up your “Pie” to ≥ 95% by demonstrating mastery of topics. Once you master a topic, it is added to your Pie. Topics can be added or subtracted from your Pie depending on your performance during the course and performance on assessments. All students are capable of reaching 95%-100% mastery.

  1. How long will it take me to reach 95% Pie Mastery in SP-Chem?

The time it takes you to reach 95% Pie Mastery will largely depend on the extent of your prior knowledge from high school chemistry courses. Beginning earlier in the summer, and spreading out the work (on a regular basis!), is advisable. Students with more limited prior knowledge will spend more time to achieve mastery than students with a strong background. All students are capable of reaching ≥ 95% mastery.

You are free to complete ALEKS SP-Chem at your own pace over the summer, however, we recommend that you login regularly in order to work on course material. ALEKS was designed by cognitive scientists who know how learning works, for this reason it is not kind to procrastinators. ALEKS makes students review topics periodically before they can begin learning new topics. The longer you wait between ALEKS sessions, the more topics you will have to review before you are allowed to continue where you left off.

  1. What happens once I reach 95% Pie Mastery in SP-Chem?

As a participant in the pilot of the ALEKS Summer Prep Course (SP-Chem), your enrollment in CHE 2A is contingent upon completing the course to ≥95% mastery by September 21, 2015. Please ensure that your ALEKS user profile correctly lists your UC Davis student ID number (9 digits, no spaces, no dashes), and name (as it appears on university records). We will use this information in order to give you credit for completing the SP-Chem, and CHE 2A prerequisite fulfillment.

As much as we’d like to give students credit instantly once 95% mastery is reached the first time, it is not possible to track individual fluctuations above and below that threshold. We are collecting Pie Mastery data once per week for intermediate reporting to the Chemistry Department. The final report will be made after the SP-Chem course closes. Students need to be at ≥95% mastery when the course closes on September 21 at 11:59pm in order to ensure the prerequisite for CHE 2A is satisfied. Your “Grade” will show in the gradebook at this time. After the course endpoint, you will still have access to ALEKS to review topics until your account expires.

Also, once you complete SP-Chem, you will be asked to complete a short survey.

  1. What happens if I DO NOT reach 95% Pie Mastery in SP-Chem?

Students are allowed to enroll in CHE 2A prior to completing prerequisite requirements. However, if the prerequisite requirements are not met by the time the quarter starts, students will be administratively dropped from CHE 2A. Prerequisites include any ONE of the following:

  • ≥95% Mastery in SP-Chem by September 21, 2015
  • Minimum score 21 on Chemistry Placement Test, and 25 on Math Placement Test
  • A grade of “C” or “P” in WLD 41C (only offered in Fall quarter), and 25 on Math Placement Test

For more information about the Placement Exam requirements, click here.

  1. Do I still need to take the Chemistry Placement Test or Math Placement Test?

As a participant in the pilot of the ALEKS Summer Prep Course (SP-Chem), your enrollment in CHE 2A is contingent upon completing the course to ≥95% mastery by September 21, 2015 and not on satisfactory scores on the math and chemistry placement tests. As such, you do not need to take the chemistry or math placement tests for the purposes of enrolling in CHE 2A if you successfully complete the ALEKS course. However, you will receive email notifications regarding information for the Chemistry Placement Test and a Math Placement Test because there are circumstances in which you may need to take one or both tests:

  • The math placement exam is required to enroll in any introductory level courses in math (MAT 12, 16A, 17A, 21A, 21AH or 36).
  • Completion of the ALEKS Summer Prep Course will only satisfy the enrollment requirement into CHE 2A, not the honors course – CHE 2AH. If you would like to enroll in the Honors General Chemistry Course (CHE 2AH), you must still achieve satisfactory scores on both math and chemistry placement tests.

For more information about the placement exam requirements follow these links: Chemistry Placement Exam and Math Placement Exam

  1. What happens if I agree to be in SP-Chem, but then change my mind later?

You can leave the SP-Chem Program at any time and it will not be held against you. If you choose to leave SPChem, you will need to complete one of the existing prerequisites for enrollment in CHE 2A:

  • Minimum score 21 on Chemistry Placement Test, and 25 on Math Placement Test OR
  • A grade of “C” or “P” in WLD 41C (only offered in Fall quarter), and 25 on Math Placement Test

For more information about the Placement Exam requirements, click here.

  1. How do I get into Honors General Chemistry (CHE 2AH)?

Completion of the ALEKS Summer Prep Course will only satisfy the enrollment requirement into CHE 2A, not the honors course – CHE 2AH. If you would like to enroll in the Honors General Chemistry Course, you must still achieve satisfactory scores on both math and chemistry placement tests.

For more information about the Placement Exam requirements, click here.

  1. Can I still choose to take WLD 41C?

Yes, you can still decide to take WLD 41C if you want to. Participation in SP-Chem does not limit your UC Davis course enrollment choices. Keep in mind that WLD 41C (Workload Chemistry) is only offered during Fall Quarter.

WLD 41C – (also known as SCC CHEMISTRY 110) – is offered through Sacramento City College on the UC Davis campus. WLD 41C carries no units toward graduation or grade-point average, however, 3 units are applicable toward minimum progress and verification of full-time status.

  1. How do I sign up for SP-Chem?

If you are interested in taking advantage of this great opportunity, you will need to follow the instructions to register as soon as possible. Please check your email for the course code.

Here is what you need to do to begin using ALEKS.

  • Open a web browser
  • Go to http://www.aleks.com
  • Click on “SIGN UP NOW”
  • In the box provided, enter the code provided to you in your invitation email.
  • Follow the instructions on the screen.
    • Be sure to enter your UCD Student ID number correctly, (enter nine numbers, do NOT include any dashes or spaces). If your UCD Student ID number is not entered or wrong you will not get credit for completing SP-Chem. If you forget to put in your UC Davis SID number or enter it wrong you can fix it by logging into your account. On the login page, in the upper right hand corner you will see your name. There is a drop-down menu under your name. Select account settings. From this menu you should be able to check and change your UC Davis SID number.

That’s it. You will now receive a brief tutorial on how to enter answers in ALEKS before taking an initial assessment to determine what you have retained from your prior course work.

  1. How do I edit my ALEKS SP-Chem profile to fix my UC Davis Student ID Number?

If your UCD Student ID number is not entered or wrong you will not get credit for completing SP-Chem. If you forget to put in your UC Davis SID number or enter it wrong you can fix it by logging into your account. On the login page, in the upper right hand corner you will see your name. There is a drop-down menu under your name. Select account settings. From this menu you should be able to check and change your UC Davis SID number. Be sure to enter your UCD Student ID number correctly, (enter nine numbers, do NOT include any dashes or spaces).

  1. How does ALEKS tell what I need to learn?

The SP-Chem Program utilizes ALEKS. ALEKS is an acronym for “Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces”. ALEKS is a powerful artificial-intelligence based teaching tool. ALEKS first assesses exactly what you know and don’t know in General Chemistry and its prerequisites from high school, and reports the results of this assessment to you and the UCD Department of Chemistry/iAMSTEM Hub in a pie graph which is also your navigation into the learning mode. Once ALEKS determines what you have remembered, and what you have forgotten or never learned before about the course, it will teach you only those things meeting the following criteria:

  • You don’t already know how to do an item (though these can be reviewed at any time in ALEKS by clicking the tab labeled “Review”)
  • You are ready to learn it, based on what you know already.

ALEKS will rarely force you to “learn” material you already know, nor will it try to teach you things for which your foundational skills make you unlikely to succeed. It is very important to take the ALEKS assessments honestly, without using external resources, in order to reach 95% Pie mastery most efficiently.

You are free to complete SP-Chem at your own pace over the summer, however, we recommend that you login regularly in order to work on course material. ALEKS was designed by cognitive scientists who know how learning works, for this reason it is not kind to procrastinators. ALEKS makes students review topics periodically before they can begin learning new topics. The longer you wait between ALEKS sessions, the more topics you will have to review before you are allowed to continue where you left off.

  1. What is the “Initial Assessment” in ALEKS SP-Chem? *IMPORTANT*

You are required to take a preliminary ALEKS assessment before starting to work on the learning objectives. The preliminary assessment will take between one and two hours, will include 20-30 questions, and determines your background in basic math and chemistry.

Do not worry about doing well or poorly, just take the assessment as honestly as possible (do not use external resources such as your textbook or the internet); that way ALEKS will adapt itself to you.

Not taking the assessment seriously can lead to LOTS more work during the SP-Chem Program, because you have to master all the topics by the end of the course. NEVER! Click the “I haven’t learned this yet” button during any ALEKS assessment unless you really don’t have any idea of how to do the problem. Otherwise, ALEKS will think you don’t know a topic that you actually do know and take you back and make you “learn” related topics.

After completing the initial assessments you will enter a pie chart learning mode where you can work to fill any gaps in your knowledge. As you work in the learning mode you will take occasional progress assessments (which look like the initial assessment) to confirm retention of previous material. These will be very important, because if you’ve forgotten something important or learned new material, ALEKS will catch this and your pie chart will be adjusted accordingly.

  1. What material is covered in the SP-Chem course?

The SP-Chem course serves as a refresher course of material that is covered in many high school chemistry and math courses. The purpose is to give you a stronger foundation that will be built on during CHE 2A.

The SP-Chem course will cover math skills (algebra, linear equations, graphing), electrostatic interactions, SI Units, dimensional analysis, atomic structure, nomenclature, stoichiometry, balancing equations, etc. The adaptive-learning software will tailor the course to your needs. You can review topics you have already learned at any time.

  1. Whom can I contact if I have technical difficulties with ALEKS or need my assessment reset?

Nobody at UC Davis is qualified to help you with technical difficulties in the ALEKS system. Please contact ALEKS Customer Support.

  1. Whom can I contact if I have other questions not answered here?

If you have any questions, which are not answered on this FAQ page, contact Derek Dockter at sp-chem@iamstem.ucdavis.edu.

UPDATE: 6/12/2015 – We experienced technical difficulties with the email server between 6/5/2015 – 6/11/2015. If you sent an email to us between these dates, we did not receive it. Please re-send your email. Sorry for the inconvenience.