Institutional Research and Assessment

The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA)

Augustana University is one of a consortium of higher-ed institutions that use the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) instrument, a website-administered evaluation tool for learning more about the cognitive growth of students. View the nationwide list of participating institutions.

Developed by the Council for Aid to Education (CAE), the CLA is comprised of "essay-type" questions designed to assess critical thinking, analytic reasoning, problem solving, and written communication. The goal of the CLA instrument is not to measure changes in individual students, but rather to learn more about programmatic features that correlate with "institutional effects" associated with larger than expected gains in students' analytical reasoning, critical thinking, and writing skills. The CLA provides one of the first "value-added" measures that can reliably compare institutional contributions to student learning.

Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) logoContacts

For answers to any questions not found in the below FAQs, please contact:

  • Jay Kahl, Ph.D., Assistant Vice Provost for Assessment and Academic Excellence, or 605.274.4190

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the CLA? The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) is an open-ended assessment that provides a measure of an institution’s contribution to the development of critical thinking and writing skills of its students. Unlike many of the exams you may be familiar with, the CLA reports the results at the school level, rather than at the student level. And while the CLA allows schools to benchmark how much progress their students have made relative to the progress of similar students at other colleges, it is not designed to rank institutions, nor it is designed to rank students. The principal goal of the CLA is to assist faculty and administrators in improving teaching and learning.
  2. Why does Augustana Use the CLA? Schools participate in the CLA to estimate how, and by how much, they contribute to your development of higher-order skills. Collecting this information is one step in the process of improving teaching and learning. There are many variables that Augustana uses when attempting to measure our “quality of education.” Some of these variables include student-to-teacher ratios, endowment size, the number of faculty with doctoral degrees, etc. While this information is certainly helpful, it doesn’t provide a direct measure of student learning. The CLA, conversely, focuses directly on the quality of education that is being provided to you and your peers by estimating student learning outcomes.
  3. Why is My Participation Important to Augustana? An assessment program like the CLA requires the cooperation of Augustana administrators, faculty and students. The students who participate in the CLA contribute to the results and data that inform the University about its students’ learning. The more students that participate in the assessment, the more confidence Augustana can have in its results. Not only does your participation in the CLA help to demonstrate Augustana’s contribution to your learning, but by attempting to do your best on the CLA, you are also helping the University grow and improve the education it provides to you and your peers.
  4. When Can I See My Results? If you enter a valid email address when completing your online CLA profile, you will receive an email alerting you when your scores are available. If you tested in the fall, you should receive an email in late February; if you tested in the spring, your email will be sent out in August. This email will provide you with instructions on how to retrieve your individual CLA results.