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Colorado State University Learning Outcomes


In order to assure that students who graduate from Colorado State University have completed a major that prepares them for a meaningful career and life-long learning, each program of study has established student learning outcomes.  Departments annually evaluate their students’ performance in achieving those outcomes as part of the University’s overall commitment to student success and continuous improvement.  The link below to the University’s Learning Outcomes website, makes it possible to look at each department’s outcomes. The site also provides access to a wide range of continuous improvement assessment activities when starting from its home page tab. The university has also begun to use the Collegiate Learning Assessment, which analyzes students’ growth in critical thinking, analytical reasoning, problem solving, and written communication.


Colorado State University administered the CLA in .

Colorado State University conducted a Value-added administration of the CLA in . The results are displayed below in the SLO Results tab.

For additional information on CSU’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?

We selected the CLA because it offers the most comprehensive analysis of higher order learning skills, written expression, critical thinking, and analytica reasoning.

Which Colorado State University students are assessed? When?

We assess a sample of new first-time students just before they enter their first fall semester.  We then assess a sample of seniors toward the end of their spring semester.  The CLA calculates the increases in learning by comparing the performance of the first-time students and the senior students (adjusting for prior academic experience, as represented by ACT and/or SAT scores).  We conduct this assessment every two or three years to track our progress.

How are assessment data collected?

Students participate in the assessment and submit their work electronicallydirectly to the CLA.    

How are data reported within Colorado State University?

Individual results are reported directly to students for their own use.  In addition, the results for all participants are used to track institutional progress in producing desired learning outcomes.  Where we have sufficient numbers of participants, we further analyze the outcome results by college and/or department, in order to provide indicators that can drive innovation and improvement at the most local level possible.

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

Assessment data are shared at multiple levels.  Academic leaders, including the Provost, Associate Provost for Educational Attainment, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs, Vice Provost for Information and Technology, Director of Institutional Research, Associate Vice President for Student Succecss, College Deans, and others.   The results become a part of the overall institutional effectiveness process and program review activties.

Of 0 freshmen students eligible to be tested, 0 (<1%) were included in the tested sample at Colorado State University.

Of 0 senior students eligible to be tested, 0 (<1%) were included in the tested sample at Colorado State University.

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 <1% <1% <1% <1%
Male <1% <1% <1% <1%
Other or Unknown <1% <1% <1% <1%
US Underrepresented Minority <1% <1% <1% <1%
White / Caucasian <1% <1% <1% <1%
International <1% <1% <1% <1%
Unknown <1% <1% <1% <1%
Low-income (Eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant) <1% <1% <1% <1%

Analysis of the freshmen taking the Fall 2015 CLA+ showed that the sample was generally representative of the student body.  Exceptions include overrepresenation of females, Liberal Arts, and Natural Sciences students, and underrepresentation of student in undeclared major.

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 analytic writing task is at or near what would be expected at an institution testing students of similar academic abilities.