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California State University, Northridge Learning Outcomes

Assessment influences all aspects of the curriculum at Cal State Northridge. Since 2006, departments and programs have submitted annual reports on how well students have mastered the learning outcomes integral to their degree programs. The data summarized in these reports also serve to highlight gaps in the curriculum that need filling. At the university level, all students are required to demonstrate wriiting proficiency by the beginning of the Junior year.  Current procedures are being expanded with the aim of using the existing assessment to examine additional core competencies (i.e., critical thinking skills, quantitative literacy).  In addition, tests such as the Collegiate Learning Assessment are administered to freshmen and seniors. The results generated by the CLA and other national initiatives are combined with information from the university’s multiple databases to inform periodic reports designed to provide insight into the university’s success in enabling its diverse students to graduate within a reasonable time period.




California State University, Northridge administered the CLA+ in 2014 - 2015.

California State University, Northridge conducted a Value-added administration of the CLA+ in 2014 - 2015. The results are displayed below in the SLO Results tab.

For additional information on CSUN’s process for administering CLA+, please click on the Assessment Process Tab below. For information on the students included in the administration, please click the Students Tested Tab.

Why did you choose the CLA+ for your institutional assessment?

The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) examines the comparative performance of a sample of entering and existing students in two key areas: critical thinking and written communication. The scores assigned in each area can be assessed either by examining each subgroup’s performance or by examining students’ gains through time.

In its current form, the CLA consists of two segments: a Performance Task and a set of questions focusing on writing.  The Perfornance Task requires students to use several pieces of “evidence” (e.g., hypothetical newspaper articles, e-mails) to formulate a recommendation about a specific “real-life” course of action (e.g., whether to purchase an airplane that has just come onto the market). 

An overview of the latest CSUN findings is available here.


Which California State University, Northridge students are assessed? When?

Cal State Northridge began administering the CLA in Fall 2005, as part of a Lumina-funded longitudinal assessment of student learning that focused on the then newly developed test of critical thinking skills.  During the first year of this initiative, members of an incoming freshmen cohort were tested in the Fall, while a group of graduating seniors was tested the following Spring.  Ever since then, the university has continued to administer the CLA annually to comparable samples of entering freshmen and graduating seniors.  In recent years, this has been done in accordance with a mandate from the CSU Chancellor’s Office.


How are assessment data collected?

Assessment data are identified and collected in keeping with CLA procedures.


How are data reported within California State University, Northridge?

An overview prepared annually by CLA staff summarizes the performance of the freshman and senior participants at CSUN and estimates gains in critical thinking and writing skills. .


How are assessment data at CSUN used to guide program improvements?

The annual summary report provided by CLA staff is carefully reviewed and the findings are used to guide program improvements whenever appropriate.


Of 2737 freshmen students eligible to be tested, 128 (5%) were included in the tested sample at California State University, Northridge.


Of 1610 senior students eligible to be tested, 139 (9%) were included in the tested sample at California State University, Northridge.


Probability sampling, where a small randomly selected sample of a larger population can be used to estimate the learning gains in the entire population with statistical confidence, provides the foundation for campus-level student learning outcomes assessment at many institutions. It's important, however, to review the demographics of the tested sample of students to ensure that the proportion of students within a given group in the tested sample is close to the proportion of students in that group in the total population. Differences in proportions don't mean the results aren't valid, but they do mean that institutions need to use caution in interpreting the results for the groups that are under-represented in the tested sample.

Undergraduate Student Demographic Breakdown

  Freshmen Seniors
Eligible Students Tested Students Eligible Students Tested Students
Gender Female 60% 55% 54% 49%
Male 40% 45% 46% 49%
Other or Unknown <1% <1% <1% 2%
Race/
Ethnicity
US Underrepresented Minority 88% 89% 69% 69%
White / Caucasian 8% 5% 25% 24%
International 1% 1% <1% <1%
Unknown 3% 5% 6% 5%
Low-income (Eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant) 73% 75% 53% 50%

With one small exception, the test-takers are largely representative of the student population from which they are drawn.  The exception is gender: women are somewhat underrepresented among both the Freshman and Senior respondents.

The VSA advises institutions to follow assessment publisher guidelines for determining the appropriate number of students to test. In the absence of publisher guidelines, the VSA provides sample size guidelines for institutions based on a 95% confidence interval and 5% margin of error. So long as the tested sample demographics represent the student body, this means we can be 95% certain that the "true" population learning outcomes are with +/- 5% of the reported results. For more information on Sampling, please refer to the Research Methods Knowledge Base

The increase in learning on the performance task is at or near what would be expected at an institution testing students of similar academic abilities.

The increase in learning on the selected-response questions is at or near what would be expected what would be epxected at an institution testing students of similar academic abilities.

Seniors Detail

The charts below show the proportion of tested seniors who scored at each level of the nine subscales that make up the CLA+. The subscale scores range from 1 to 6 with 6 representing a higher or better score. Due to rounding, subscores may not total 100%.

Performance Task
Analysis & Problem Solving
Writing Effectiveness
Writing Mechanics

The table below shows students' mean scores on the three subscales that make up the Selected-Response Questions section of the CLA+. The students subscores are determined by the number of correct responses in each subsection, with those raw numbers adjusted based on the difficulty of the question set the students received. Individual student scores are rounded to the nearest whole number.

Subscale Mean Student Scores
Scientific & Quantitative Reasoning (Range: 200 to 800) 538.0
Critical Reading & Evaluation (Range: 200 to 800) 542.0
Critique an Argument (Range: 200 to 800) 527.0
Freshmen Detail

The charts below show the proportion of tested freshmen who scored at each level of the nine subscales that make up the CLA+. The subscale scores range from 1 to 6 with 6 representing a higher or better score. Due to rounding, subscores may not total 100%.

Performance Task
Analysis & Problem Solving
Writing Effectiveness
Writing Mechanics

The table below shows students' mean scores on the three subscales that make up the Selected-Response Questions section of the CLA+. The students subscores are determined by the number of correct responses in each subsection, with those raw numbers adjusted based on the difficulty of the question set the students received. Individual student scores are rounded to the nearest whole number.

Subscale Mean Student Scores
Scientific & Quantitative Reasoning (Range: 200 to 800) 448.0
Critical Reading & Evaluation (Range: 200 to 800) 451.0
Critique an Argument (Range: 200 to 800) 464.0