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The University of Texas at Dallas Learning Outcomes

Each of the academic programs at The University of Texas at Dallas identifies student learning outcomes, annually assesses whether the program has achieved those outcomes, and uses the assessments to improve the program.  UTD applies a distributed approach to assessment, which includes internal auditing, program accreditation, and certification of students. When taken together, this approach ensures an effective evaluation of educational programs that is distributed across the entire university and not housed solely in one administrative office.  Academic assessment occurs at two basic levels: academic program level and individual course level with emphasis on undergraduate core curriculum courses. 

Learning Assessment Examples

The University of Texas at Dallas administered the CLA in 2013 - 2014.

The University of Texas at Dallas conducted a Value-added administration of the CLA in 2013 - 2014. The results are displayed below in the SLO Results tab.

For additional information on UTD’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 will be using the CLA to assess the effectiveness of our institution’s core curriculum.

Which The University of Texas at Dallas students are assessed? When?

First-time in college (FTIC) freshmen are assessed in the fall and native seniors (i.e., those who were once FTIC students at UT Dallas) are assessed in the spring.

How are assessment data collected?

CLA test results are collected electronically (and automatically) by CAE after the completion of each test. CAE then analyzes the results and reports the findings to UT System, who then shares those findings with UT Dallas.

How are data reported within The University of Texas at Dallas?

UT Dallas reviews the report that is generated by CAE, but does not perform any further analyses.

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

UT Dallas used the assessment data to guide improvements in its core curriculum and core curriculum assessment process.

Of 2233 freshmen students eligible to be tested, 123 (6%) were included in the tested sample at The University of Texas at Dallas.

Of 1427 senior students eligible to be tested, 161 (11%) were included in the tested sample at The University of Texas at Dallas.

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 41% 57% 43% 45%
Male 59% 43% 57% 55%
Other or Unknown <1% <1% <1% <1%
US Underrepresented Minority 61% 66% 56% 15%
White / Caucasian 33% 33% 39% 39%
International 4% 1% 4% 38%
Unknown 2% <1% 1% 9%
Low-income (Eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant) 27% 25% 23% 28%

Students were offered an incentive to participate ($50) in the CLA, which likely leads to selection bias amongst our sample. Although we cannot adjust for such bias, we can make an effort to obtain a more representative sample in the future. As of fall 2014, all incoming FTIC freshmen will complete the CLA early in their first semester at UT Dallas. The same group of students will be retested once they have completed their core curriculum. This pretest-posttest approach will provide us with a more accurate representation of student progress at UT Dallas.  We will continue to sample a small group of native seniors every spring as well, however selection bias issues will likely persist with this group.

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 below 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.