Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Wanjira Kinuthia

Second Advisor

Stephen Harmon

Third Advisor

Pier Junor Clarke

Fourth Advisor

Iman Chahine


For many courses, mathematics included, there is an associated interactive e-learning system that provides assessment and tutoring. Some of these systems are classified as Intelligent Tutoring Systems. MyMathLab, Mathzone, and Assessment of LEarning in Knowledge Space (ALEKS) are just a few of the interactive e-learning systems in mathematics. In ALEKS, assessment and tutoring are based on the Knowledge Space Theory. Previous studies in a traditional learning environment have shown ALEKS users to perform equally or better in mathematics achievement than the group who did not use ALEKS.

The purpose of this research was to investigate the effect of ALEKS on students’ achievement in mathematics in an online learning environment and to determine the cognitive complexity of mathematical tasks enacted by ALEKS’s initial (pretest) and final (posttest) assessments. The targeted population for this study was undergraduate students in College Mathematics I, in an online course at a private university in the southwestern United States. The study used a quasi-experimental One-Group non-randomized pretest and posttest design.

Five methods of analysis and one model were used in analyzing data: t-test, correctional analysis, simple and multiple regression analysis, Cronbach’s Alpha reliability test and Webb’s depth of knowledge model. A t-test showed a difference between the pretest and posttest reports, meaning ALEKS had a significant effect on students’ mathematics achievement. The correlation analysis showed a significant positive linear relationship between the concept mastery reports and the formative and summative assessments reports meaning there is a direct relationship between the ALEKS concept mastery and the assessments. The regression equation showed a better model for predicting mathematics achievement with ALEKS when the time spent learning in ALEKS and the concept mastery scores are used as part of the model.

According to Webb’s depth of knowledge model, the cognitive complexity of the pretest and posttest question items used by ALEKS were as follows: 50.5% required application of skills and concepts, 37.1% required recall of information, and 12.4% required strategic thinking: None of the questions items required extended thinking or complex reasoning, implying ALEKS is appropriate for skills and concepts building at this level of mathematics.