Cover: The Collegiate Learning Assessment

The Collegiate Learning Assessment

Setting Standards for Performance at a College or University

Published Aug 27, 2009

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.

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.

This report is part of the RAND technical report series. RAND technical reports may include research findings on a specific topic that is limited in scope or intended for a narrow audience; present discussions of the methodology employed in research; provide literature reviews, survey instruments, modeling exercises, guidelines for practitioners and research professionals, and supporting documentation; or deliver preliminary findings. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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