Collegiate Learning Assessment

What is the CLA?

The CLA is a national program for colleges to assess their efforts to develop the critical thinking, analytical reasoning, writing, and problem-solving skills of their students.

Each year samples of freshmen and seniors from over 170 colleges across the country are invited to participate in realistic problem solving and analytic reasoning tasks and to provide answers to a series of questions based on the materials presented to them and on their own personal experience.

Why do schools use the CLA?

Schools participate in the CLA to gauge not only the range of academic abilities in their students and the extent to which these abilities are different from one group of students to the next, but also to see if these differences match up with their expectations and their efforts to improve and deliver quality programs.

Why is your participation important to your college?

Colleges want to get a wide representation of students to participate in this assessment in order to see how well they are able to develop their students' critical thinking, analytical reasoning, writing and problem-solving skills at all academic ability levels. Invitations are sent out to random samples of entering and exiting students. If you receive an invitation, consider it an opportunity to provide feedback to your college on the effectiveness of their programs.

What's in it for me?

In addition to the chance of having a say in an assessment of your college, you will be compensated for your time (about two hours), with a $50 gift-card. You will also receive a report of your performance and how well you did compared to others at your school and to all CLA participants. Please be aware that these reports are for your information only, and the results will have no effect on your class standing.

What is the format of the CLA?

There are two task types in the CLA: the Performance Task and the Analytic Writing Task. Each participant will take one task or the other, not both! The Analytic Writing Task includes a pair of prompts called "Make-an-Argument" and "Critique-an-Argument." All CLA tasks are administered online and contain open-ended prompts that require written responses. No prior knowledge of any particular field is necessary in order to perform well on the CLA. For more detailed information on the format and timing of the CLA tasks, please see Sample CLA Tasks