campus partner(s)

Council for Aid to Education






Fresh Thinking

award date


project director

Roger Benjamin

Council for Aid to Education

Grant Summary

$80,000 over 6 months. Developed by the Council for Aid to Education (CAE), the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) measures the value added by a given institution to their students' competence in higher order skills of critical thinking, analytical reasoning, problem solving, and written communication. That the CLA's primary unit of analysis is the institution, and that the test provides holistic scores based on an intertwined range of learning outcomes noted above, has made it challenging to use test results to improve teaching and learning in individual classrooms. CAE seeks to address this issue through their new initiative, CLA in the Classroom. This program will give faculty an opportunity to use selected components of the CLA in their classrooms with the goal of strengthening student work in the areas measured by the test. They will be provided with guidelines for administering and scoring the CLA component, as well as guidelines for analyzing the results in ways that illuminate why students performed the way they did, how to think about the CLA in light of other student assignments, and how to lead a discussion about learning these kinds of skills.

The Foundation will support a portion of the development of CLA in the Classroom, including:

  • Field testing at 5-7 institutions which will be selected to maximize the variation of classroom settings. Institution type, class size, student population, and academic discipline will factor into their selection;
  • Focus groups with students and faculty to see what they got out of the experience. Administrators will also be consulted to learn how CLA in the Classroom might be taken to scale on their campus, how CLA in the Classroom can be used to complement institutional use of CLA, and what research studies can be done using institutional results of CLA. Lastly, CLA staff will work with faculty to explore what it would take to develop their own performance tasks for their classrooms;
  • Publicity of the program;
  • Workshops for individual faculty to show them how to use CLA in the Classroom materials.