The Collegiate Learning Assessment

Setting Standards for Performance at a College or University

by Chaitra M. Hardison, Anna-Marie Vilamovska


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The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) is a measure of how much students' critical thinking improves after attending college or university. This report illustrates how institutions can set their own standards on the CLA using a method that is appropriate for the CLA's unique characteristics. The authors examined evidence of reliability and procedural validity of a standard-setting methodology that they developed and applied to the CLA. For this task, they assembled nine panels composed of faculty members from participating CLA institutions across the United States. The results of the process were promising. Overall, the three steps of the process produced similar standards for performance, although the authors observed variability across individuals, panels, and different CLA test prompts.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Background on Standard Setting

  • Chapter Three

    Standard-Setting Study Method

  • Chapter Four

    Standard-Setting Study Results

  • Chapter Five

    Standard-Setting Study Conclusions

  • Chapter Six

    Summary and Notes of Caution

  • Appendix A

    Sample Performance Task Screen Shots: Crime

  • Appendix B

    Low-, Mid-, and High-Level Crime Responses

  • Appendix C

    Questionnaire Item and Scale Means and Standard Deviations

  • Appendix D

    Individual and Group Standard-Setting Results

  • Appendix E

    Sorting Results

  • Appendix F

    Feedback Form Means and Standard Deviations

The research described in this report was produced within RAND Education, a unit of the RAND Corporation. Funding was provided by The Council for Aid to Education.

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