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California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo College Portrait

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California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo Learning Outcomes

Student Learning at Cal Poly

Cal Poly conducts program-level assessment of student learning as part of an ongoing process of continuous improvement and program review. The university expects each program to address all of its learning objectives during a single cycle of internal review (typically six years). Many programs undergo simultaneous review by an external accreditation/certification agency, thus assuring their accountability to the public and the professions.

At the university level, Cal Poly has undertaken three direct assessment projects since the Academic Senate’s approval of the University Learning Objectives (ULOs) in 2007. The first was a ULO-based pilot focused on five areas of student learning: writing, oral communication, diversity learning, lifelong learning, and ethical reasoning. The second is an ongoing campuswide assessment of the senior project, a capstone experience required for all Cal Poly undergraduates. The third is a new five-year ULO/General Education assessment plan for academic years 2013-2017. This plan is based on the five core competencies — critical thinking, written communication, quantitative reasoning, oral communication, and information literacy — emphasized by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in its standards and criteria for accreditation review.

Like other campuses of the California State University, Cal Poly obtains direct evidence of student critical-thinking skills by administering the Collegiate Learning Assessment on an annual basis. The University obtains indirect evidence of student learning by administering the National Survey of Student Engagement every three years, along with its companion surveys, the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement and the Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement. The university also obtains employer feedback on the overall quality, industry readiness, and skill attainment of Cal Poly graduates by means of annual surveys conducted by Career Services




California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo administered the CLA+ in 2015.

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

For additional information on Cal Poly’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+) measures critical thinking, analytic reasoning, problem solving, and written communication. The scores from the tasks are reported separately below.

 


Which California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo students are assessed? When?

First-time freshmen are assessed at the start of Fall quarter during the week or orientation.  Native seniors are assessed in March and April, at the end of Winter quarter and start of Spring quarter.


How are assessment data collected?

The CLA+ assessments are administered on-line and are timed at ninety minutes.  The Council for Aid to Education (CAE) scores the assessments and provides the campus with an analysis of the results.


How are data reported within California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo?

In addition to the analysis provided by CAE, Cal Poly does further analysis of the data for results by college within the university.  


How are assessment data at Cal Poly used to guide program improvements?

Assessment data are used as part of the cyclical Academic Program Review process at Cal Poly.  Programs review the data, determine improvements to be made, assess the outcomes of those improvements, and use the new data to inform the design of further improvements.


Of 4662 freshmen students eligible to be tested, 128 (3%) were included in the tested sample at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.


Of 5249 senior students eligible to be tested, 123 (2%) were included in the tested sample at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.


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 49% 59% 46% 41%
Male 51% 38% 54% 55%
Other or Unknown <1% 3% <1% 4%
Race/
Ethnicity
US Underrepresented Minority 36% 19% 30% 33%
White / Caucasian 58% 77% 63% 61%
International 2% <1% 1% <1%
Unknown 4% 4% 6% 7%
Low-income (Eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant) <1% <1% <1% <1%

Our tested freshmen population had a higher proportion of women to men than our  entire incoming freshman class.  We found no correlation between individual assessment scores and gender, however.  Our tested senior population had a higher proportion of men than the corresponding class cohort but, again, we found no correlation between scores and gender.  Both groups were made up of students from our six colleges in roughly that same proportion as the cohorts as a whole. 

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 above 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) 623.0
Critical Reading & Evaluation (Range: 200 to 800) 616.0
Critique an Argument (Range: 200 to 800) 621.0
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) 534.0
Critical Reading & Evaluation (Range: 200 to 800) 521.0
Critique an Argument (Range: 200 to 800) 525.0