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Western Washington University Learning Outcomes

Faculty-driven department and program assessment plans form the foundation of student learning assessment at Western Washington University. Departments and programs establish student learning outcomes (SLOs) derived from their mission and the University’s strategic plan. These SLOs allow each program to measure and analyze student performance relative to programmatic goals, and to make data-informed programmatic improvements. Student learning assessment at Western is continuous in that it is structured as a cycle or iterative feedback process of ongoing program improvement. Support for student learning assessment is provided by each college, the Office of Survey Research, the Center for Instructional Innovation and Assessment, and the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. Further information on student learning assessment at Western can be found here .




Western Washington University administered the CLA in 2012 - 2013.

Western Washington University conducted a Value-added administration of the CLA in 2012 - 2013. The results are displayed below in the SLO Results tab.

For additional information on WWU’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 chose the CLA because we sought a nationally benchmarked exam that assessed the core liberal arts abilities in critical thinking and written communication. 


Which Western Washington University students are assessed? When?

Seniors volunteer to take the exam. Freshmen who enroll in our First Year Interest Group program take the exam. 


How are assessment data collected?

Assessment results are provided for us by the Collegiate Learning Assessment. 


How are data reported within Western Washington University?

CLA results are reviewed and discussed by the Director of Academic Assessment and by the faculty committee responsible for Western's liberal arts and sciences core curriculum. 


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

We analyze CLA results together with results from the National Study of Student Engagement and our own assessment of our liberal arts and sciences core curriculum. Differences in the mean results of seniors and freshmen are analyzed in order to assess the "value added" by a Western education. 


Of 2688 freshmen students eligible to be tested, 101 (4%) were included in the tested sample at Western Washington University.


Of 4898 senior students eligible to be tested, 79 (2%) were included in the tested sample at Western Washington 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% 70% 55% 56%
Male 42% 30% 45% 44%
Other or Unknown <1% <1% <1% <1%
Race/
Ethnicity
US Underrepresented Minority 23% 17% 20% 18%
White / Caucasian 76% 80% 77% 73%
International <1% <1% 1% <1%
Unknown <1% 2% <1% 4%
Low-income (Eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant) 23% <1% 30% <1%

Our tested students are fairly representative of our larger student body. 

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 above 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.

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 Make-an-Argument Critique-an-Argument
Analytic Reasoning and Evaluation
Writing Effectiveness
Writing Mechanics
Problem Solving

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 Make-an-Argument Critique-an-Argument
Analytic Reasoning and Evaluation
Writing Effectiveness
Writing Mechanics
Problem Solving