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The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA)

Organization: CIC-CLA Consortium Project

The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) is a national benchmarking learning outcome assessment tool that offers an authentic approach to assessment and improvement of teaching and learning in higher education. To date, more than 500 institutions and 200,000 students have participated. The CLA presents realistic problems that require students to analyze complex materials. It measures critical thinking, analytical reasoning, problem solving and written communication skills in a holistic manner.

The CLA determines an institution’s contribution or value added to the development of these competencies by comparing the deviation scores between first-year students and seniors using a statistical technique known as hierarchical linear modeling. The results assist faculty, department chairs, school administrators and others interested in programmatic change to evaluate and improve teaching and learning, particularly with respect to strengthening higher order skills. 

The CLA is the same assessment examined in the groundbreaking book Academically Adrift, Richard Arum and Josipa Roska’s 2011 critique of American higher education. Reviewing CLA data, the authors reported low or minimal gains in learning among many students taking the assessment, as well as a wide racial disparity in outcomes. CLA results from Notre Dame consistently demonstrate significant value added between senior and first-year students. Specifically, for the past four years, the added value was ranked in the 79th to the 92nd percentile among all participating institutions

Notre Dame joined the CIC/CLA consortium in 2008-2009, and is in its fifth year of using the assessment. 

Visit the CLA website.

Read more about Notre Dame’s most recent CLA results.