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College of Notre Dame Students Outperform Peers on Critical Educational Assessment

March 16, 2011

College of Notre Dame of Maryland students outperformed their peers in the second leg of the College Learning Assessment (CLA), the school reports. Based on their scores as incoming students and again as seniors, Notre Dame students showed more improved critical, analytical and communication skills after three years in college than 92 percent of those surveyed at more than 500 participating institutions nationwide. 

“As educators, we strive to help every student achieve her potential,” said Dr. Mary Pat Seurkamp, president of Notre Dame. “The CLA results are rewarding because they show that our approach to learning, with a strong liberal arts foundation, is helping students develop the kind of critical skills required in today’s job market.”

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. 

Noting that first -year students at Notre Dame performed higher than 62 percent of CLA-participating institutions on the first leg of the test, Dr. Seurkamp observed: “The CLA shows that our students are entering Notre Dame more academically prepared than indicated by their SAT scores alone.” 

In their second round of testing during their senior year, Notre Dame students’ scores improved by 10 percent—a rate of improvement better than 92 percent of the CLA schools that took the test.

“The CLA confirms the intellectual growth of our students, something we see on a daily basis,” said Dr. Seurkamp. “Preparing women and men as confident, capable, independent leaders is at the core of all we do.” 

College of Notre Dame of Maryland is recognized for its commitment to a liberal arts education, including strong teacher preparation and nursing degree programs and small class sizes. The Women’s College, the first Catholic college for women in the United States to award the four-year baccalaureate degree, offers 30 majors. Notre Dame was named to the “Great Schools, Great Prices” listing in America’s Best Colleges 2011. In fall 2009 the College welcomed its inaugural class to the School of Pharmacy. The College of Adult Undergraduate Studies offers part-time programs for working women and men. Graduate Studies in education, nursing, management, communication and liberal studies provide students with a focused contemporary curriculum. Visit ndm.edu for more information.