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University of Colorado Boulder Learning Outcomes

CU Boulder has a long history of assessing undergraduate educational outcomes and pays serious attention to evidence concerning student learning, completion rates, and activities after graduation. For more than two decades a campus-wide program has been in place to examine the quality and effectiveness of academic programs through examination of student learning. Academic programs (e.g., history, chemistry) list knowledge and skills goals for their undergraduates in our catalog and use varying assessment methods to determine how well their goals are being met. These methods range from comparison of majors' performance on nationally standardized exams with national norms to direct evaluations by invited experts who rate student achievement. The programs use results from assessment activities to evaluate curricula, teaching, and course content; choose new faculty hires; plan improvements; and evaluate the effects of changes. CU Boulder uses student surveys to routinely ask students about their educational experiences, making comparisons over CU Boulder departments and colleges, over time, and to results for students at other public research universities across the country.  The University uses survey results to improve its academic programs. In addition, every semester, every student in every course has the opportunity to rate the course and instructor on nine key questions and to offer "constructive comments to your instructor" on the Faculty Course Questionnaire. Instructors use the ratings and comments to improve their courses.

Learning Assessment Examples

University of Colorado Boulder administered the CLA+ in 2014.

University of Colorado Boulder conducted a Senior-only benchmarked administration of the CLA+ in 2014. The results are displayed below in the SLO Results tab.

For additional information on CU-Boulder’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 University of Colorado Boulder selected the CLA because of its emphasis on application of knowledge, and because it is the exam most often selected by our peers and thus will yield the most reasonable comparisons.

Which University of Colorado Boulder students are assessed? When?

CU-Boulder administered the CLA to a random sample of seniors in the spring of 2014. The students tested were the first to respond to invitations to participate.

How are assessment data collected?

Participants took the CLA test in proctored computer labs on campus over 7 dates in April 2014. All tests were submitted to and analyzed by CLA.

How are data reported within University of Colorado Boulder?

Data from the CLA testing were summarized by CLA and shared with CU-Boulder in an Institutional Report. The report is distributed to campus units, including the Academic Oversight Committee and the Office of Institutional Research, which posts the report on its website to make it available to interested parties.

How are assessment data at CU-Boulder used to guide program improvements?

The CLA is one component of CU-Boulder's   assessment of learning  --  an undertaking that includes knowledge and skills assessments carried out by academic departments, the assessment of writing that occurs in the Program for Writing and Rhetoric, the administration of the Critical Thinking Assessment Test for critical thinking, results from nationally standardized tests in fields such as engineering and mathematics, and data from student surveys.

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

At CU-Boulder, senior students who completed the CLA+ Performance Task (n=99) scored higher than 92% of seniors at all other CLA+-participating institutions in Spring 2014.

At CU-Boulder, senior students who completed the CLA+ Selected Response (n=99) scored higher than 91% of seniors at all other CLA+-participating institutions in Spring 2014.

As CU-Boulder did not participate in a value-added administration, scores are not adjusted to account for the incoming ability of CU-Boulder students.