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The Ohio State University College Portrait

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The Ohio State University Learning Outcomes

The Ohio State University is committed to improving student learning through effective assessment.  Assessment is viewed as an ongoing improvement strategy whereby expected learning outcomes and core values are identified, evidence is collected and evaluated as to whether those outcomes and values are achieved, and the resulting information is used to inform decisions to enhance students’ educational achievement.  At Ohio State assessment is a broad-based activity that occurs at a number of levels across the university in both curricular and co-curricular learning environments.  Some assessments are carried out at the institutional level, for example, the CLA+, others are conducted at the graduate, professional, and undergraduate program levels, some are done at the general education course/category-level, and still others within co-curricular programming.   Several offices at Ohio State provide support for assessment including the University Center for the Advancement of Teaching, Institutional Research and Planning, the Center for the Study of Student Life, and Curriculum and Assessment Services in the College of Arts and Sciences.




The Ohio State University administered the CLA+ in 2014.

The Ohio State University 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 OSU’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?

Ohio State selected the CLA+ based on experience using the CLA in a Lumina-sponsored longitudinal pilot project conducted 2005-2009, and a subsequent cross-sectional analysis using the same instrument with freshman and senior cohorts in 2009-2010.  Findings from these prior assessments help inform current student performance using the similar but improved instrument.  Importantly, the CLA+ is a direct assessment of skills that align with key institutional curricular goals, such as analytical reasoning, critical thinking, and communication.  The revised CLA+ further adds new assessments of scientific and quantitative reasoning, and critical reading and evaluation, and offers both institutional and student-level information.


Which The Ohio State University students are assessed? When?

Ohio State previously administered the CLA to samples of freshmen and senior cohorts to assess ‘value added’ gains in student learning.  Given gains were at expected levels, Ohio State used a senior only sample in the administration of the CLA+ Spring 2014 to evaluate student performance in assessed skills which could be benchmarked against a national senior sample.   The Ohio State sample consisted of students who had attained Rank Four (senior) status, matched the characteristics of the Ohio State Columbus campus non-transfer senior population, and met the minimum sample size recommended by publishers of the instrument.


How are assessment data collected?

To collect data, an invitation was sent to a stratified random sample of 3,000 Rank Four students to participate in the Spring 2014 CLA+ testing that took place in monitored computer testing facilities on campus.  The stratified sample matched population characteristics on gender, ethnicity, academic college, and Pell grant recipient for Columbus campus, non-transfer students.  Incentives to participate included a $50 Amazon gift certificate, and added information that individual percentile score data could be used on individual students’ resumes at students’ discretion.  The first 125 students who scheduled and participated in testing, and completed both parts of the 90-minute assessment, were used in the sample data being presented.  Approximately 20 students could not complete both sections of the test due to technical issues and were not included in the final sample.  A minimum sample size of n=100 was deemed appropriate by the test’s publisher, the Council for Aid to Education.


How are data reported within The Ohio State University?

Summary statistics of the results, and explanations about how to interpret the findings, are provided by the Council for Aid to Education in a 40-page institutional report.  The report specifies information about overall CLA+ performance and percentile rankings, along with finer grain analyses for different subcomponents of the test.  For the overall test, the score (Ohio State score = 1249), percentile rank (Ohio State score = 96), and corresponding Mastery Level for the score (Ohio State score = proficient) are given.  For the performance test, distribution of sub-scores for ‘analysis and problem solving,’  ‘writing effectiveness,’ and ‘writing mechanics,’ are provided and also show corresponding criterion-based mastery level.  For the selected-response questions, mean sub-scores for ‘scientific and quantitative reasoning,’ ‘critical reading and evaluation,’ and ‘critique an argument’ are provided, along with 25th and 75th percentile scores.   A summary of this information is shared with leadership and relevant curricular/assessment committees.  Required information is also displayed as part of the VSA participation requirements in the institution’s College Portrait.


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

Faculty curriculum and assessment committees consider the CLA+ findings in concert with other assessment data, such as findings from NSSE, Exit Surveys, and General Education category-level (e.g., Communication; Social Science) course assessments.  The CLA+ findings provide a broad gauge as to whether soon to be graduates are performing in a satisfactory and proficient manner on key institutional learning goals, as well as how Ohio State students perform relative to others who take the test nationally (percentiles).  Sub-scores provide additional information as to how students perform differentially on distinct abilities (e.g., Communication versus Natural Science).  If warranted, relevant faculty committees can use the information to inform curricular changes, and faculty teaching in relevant areas can use the information to consider content/pedagogical changes to enhance outcomes as appropriate.


The Ohio State students tested were representative of the population.

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.

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 OSU, senior students who completed the CLA+ Performance Task (n=105) scored higher than 95% of seniors at all other CLA+-participating institutions in Spring 2014.

At OSU, senior students who completed the CLA+ Selected Response (n=105) scored higher than 96% of seniors at all other CLA+-participating institutions in Spring 2014.

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

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) 609.0
Critical Reading & Evaluation (Range: 200 to 800) 585.0
Critique an Argument (Range: 200 to 800) 597.0