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Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA)

As part of a national study, sponsored by the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the Council for Aid to Education (CAE), SJSU is participating in a longitudinal study of student learning. Using measures developed by CAE, the study will assess the "value-added" effects of college and university attendance on three fundamental outcomes of liberal education: critical thinking, analytic reasoning, and written communication.

The CLA combines two types of testing instruments:

  1. Performance Tasks: Students must complete a "real-life" activity (such as preparing a memo or policy recommendation) by using a series of documents that must be reviewed and evaluated. Completion of these instruments does not require the recall of particular facts or formulas; instead, the measures assess the demonstrated ability to interpret, analyze and synthesize information.
  2. Writing Prompts: Evaluate students' ability to articulate complex ideas, examine claims and evidence, support ideas with relevant reasons and examples, sustain a coherent discussion, and use standard written English.

Benefits of Participation:

  1. By participating in this unique research project, our campus will receive detailed information about the intellectual growth of our students, and will be a part of the larger national study to understand the institutional, curricular and pedagogical components that promote powerful learning. Our campus will also become part of a consortium of institutions committed to explore best practices that support liberal learning.


  1. The innovative CLA performance measures require three-hours of testing time; all measures are administered on-line on campus computer facilities. SJSU will have 300 first-year students participate in this study. The academic progress of these students will be tracked during their attendance at SJSU to participate in these repeated assessments. The project will build a link between educational research and practice by creating a Collegiate Learning Assessment Database that can be used to conduct research about student learning and best practices, and that will inform curricular and programmatic design and planning.

For more information, visit the CLA website or contact the Office of Institutional Research at 408-924-1520 or