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Western Carolina University Learning Outcomes

Western Carolina University is committed to creating engaged learning opportunities that incorporate teaching, research, and service through residential, distance education and international experiences. The University is proud of its nationally and regionally recognized educational programs with particular strengths in teacher education, health sciences, and experiential learning. At WCU, quality of academic and co-curricular programs and services is a core value and measurement of institutional quality is ensured through a continuous program of assessment that provides meaningful information for planning and decision-making. The link below will direct you to the WCU Office of Assessment website where you can browse assessment information related to a range of academic programs and student services.

 




Western Carolina University administered the CLA+ in 2014.

Western Carolina University conducted a Value-added administration of the CLA+ in 2014. The results are displayed below in the SLO Results tab.

For additional information on WCU’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) is part of a comprehensive assessment of university level student learning outcomes which was used in part for WCU's Fifth-year Interim Report to its accreditor, the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges - Commission on Colleges. The CLA was used along with other surveys such as the National Survey on Student Engagement (NSSE) and internal assessment reports to determine the impact of its Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) (see QEP website at http://qep.wcu.edu) on student learning.  WCU's QEP Impact Report can be found online at the above website. 


Which Western Carolina University students are assessed? When?

We assess first-time full-time freshmen and seniors who will likely graduate by the summer of the year the assessment is offered.  We do this assessment every three years with the intent of reassessing the freshmen as seniors three years later. 


How are assessment data collected?

The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) is a proctored assessment conducted online in a computer lab.  The assessment instruments were developed and are maintained by the Council for Aid to Education.  You can find more information about the CLA at http://collegiatelearningassessment.org/. 


How are data reported within Western Carolina University?

The data collected by the Council for Aid to Education is scored and aggregated at the institutional level and used by administrators, faculty, and staff at WCU to determine the overall effectiveness of the Quality Enhancement Plan (http://qep.wcu.edu) and our educational programs. 


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

The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) is part of a comprehensive assessment of university level student learning outcomes and is used along with other surveys such as the National Survey on Student Engagement (NSSE) and internal assessment reports to determine the impact of its Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) (see QEP website at http://qep.wcu.edu) on student learning. 


Of 1614 freshmen students eligible to be tested, 212 (13%) were included in the tested sample at Western Carolina University.


Of 1423 senior students eligible to be tested, 99 (7%) were included in the tested sample at Western Carolina 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 58% 69% 56% 68%
Male 42% 31% 44% 32%
Other or Unknown <1% <1% <1% <1%
Race/
Ethnicity
US Underrepresented Minority 17% 24% 14% 24%
White / Caucasian 82% 75% 85% 75%
International <1% <1% <1% 1%
Unknown <1% 1% 1% <1%
Low-income (Eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant) 39% 44% 49% 55%

The sample of students participating in the Collegiate Learning Assessment for WCU included a higher porportion of females than exist in the student body. As data is analyzed, this difference must be accounted for.  Also, the number of seniors participating was significantly lower than expected.  The differences in calculated scores may not be as significant as it seems and further analysis is necessary.  Finally, we had few responses in business and humanities, limiting the usefulness of data at the college level for those programs.    

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) 571.0
Critical Reading & Evaluation (Range: 200 to 800) 557.0
Critique an Argument (Range: 200 to 800) 543.0
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) 509.0
Critical Reading & Evaluation (Range: 200 to 800) 504.0
Critique an Argument (Range: 200 to 800) 521.0