The Collegiate Learning Assessment

During 2005-2006, Kalamazoo College administered a relatively new assessment instrument called the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA). The CLA measures an institution’s value added to the intellectual development of its students in four key areas:

  • Critical thinking
  • Analytical reasoning
  • Problem solving
  • Written communication

All of our students have abilities in these areas when they matriculate, and everyone anticipates improvement in these areas during the college years (and beyond!). The 2005 entering class took the CLA during orientation week. In 2009 these same students took the exam again. Results showed that students made exceptional gains over four years.

About the Collegiate Learning Assessment

The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) is an innovative approach to assessing an institution’s contribution to student learning. It was developed by the Council for Aid to Education (CAE) with the RAND Corporation. The measures are designed to simulate complex, ambiguous situations that every successful college graduate may one day face. Students are asked to analyze complex material and provide written responses. The CLA measures are uniquely designed to test for reasoning and communications skills that most agree should be one outcome of a college education.

More information

Lumina-funded CLA Longitudinal Study (2005-2009) Council for Aid to Education (CAE)
MEASURE BY MEASURE A new effort to determine how well schools teach, BY JAY MATHEWS, Atlantic Monthly, October 2004