CLA Task Format

Overview

The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA+) is a performance-based assessment that provides a measure of an institution's contribution to the development of critical thinking and writing skills of its students.

There are two sections of the CLA+: the Performance Task and the Selected-Response Questions. For the Performance Task, students have 60 minutes to analyze and evaluate the information presented in a library of documents and craft a written response to a scenario based problem.  The Selected-Response questions are designed to evaluate targeted skill sets. Students are presented with a set of questions as well as one or two documents to refer to when answering each question.  Students have 30 minutes to respond to 25 Selected-Response questions.

Measure Description Time
Performance Task - written response Complete a task using a set of provided materials 60 min
Selected Response - multiple choice 10 critical reading and evaluation questions
10 scientific and quantitative reasoning questions
5 critique-an-argument questions
30 min

 





PERFORMANCE TASK

Each Performance Task assesses analysis and problem solving, writing effectiveness and writing mechanics by asking students to answer several open-ended questions about a hypothetical but realistic situation.  Students have 60 minutes to complete a Performance Task.

A Performance Task also has its own Document Library that includes a range of information sources, such as letters, memos, photographs, charts, or newspaper articles.

Example

Scenario

You advise Pat Williams, the president of DynaTech, a company that makes precision electronic instruments and navigational equipment. Sally Evans, a member of DynaTech's sales force, recommended that DynaTech buy a small private plane (a SwiftAir 235) that she and other members of the sales force could use to visit customers. Pat was about to approve the purchase when there was an accident involving a SwiftAir 235.

Document Library

 

  • Newspaper article about the accident
  • Federal Accident Report on in-flight breakups in single-engine planes
  • Internal Correspondence (Pat's e-mail to you & Sally's e-mail to Pat)
  • Charts relating to SwiftAir's performance characteristics
  • Excerpt from magazine article comparing SwiftAir 235 to similar planes
  • Pictures and descriptions of SwiftAir Models 180 and 235

 

Questions

 

  • Do the available data tend to support or refute the claim that the type of wing on the SwiftAir 235 leads to more in-flight breakups?
  • What is the basis for your conclusion?
  • What other factors might have contributed to the accident and should be taken into account?
  • What is your preliminary recommendation about whether or not DynaTech should buy the plane and what is the basis for this recommendation?

 

 

Characteristics of a High Quality Performance Task Response:

  • Evaluates whether evidence is credible or unreliable
  • Provides analysis and synthesis of the evidence
  • Draws conclusions that follow from the provided evidence
  • Is well-organized and logically developed, with each idea building upon the last
  • Shows strong command of writing mechanics and vocabulary




Selected-Response Questions

Critical Reading & Evaluation

The Critical Reading & Evaluation section contains ten questions that require students to use information and arguments from (an) accompanuying document(s) to:

  • support or refute a position
  • identify connected and conflicting information
  • analyze logic
  • identify assumptions in arguments
  • make justifiable inferences
  • evaluate the reliability of the information provided

The supporting documents in this section may present debates, conversations, or multiple literary or historical texts with opposing views on an authentic issue.

 



Scientific & Quantitative Reasoning

The Scientific & Quantitative Reasoning section contains ten questions that require students to use information and arguments provided in (an) accompanying document(s) to:

  • make inferences and hypotheses based on given results
  • support or refute a position
  • identify connected and conflicting information
  • detect questionable assumptions (such as implications of causation based on correlation)
  • evaluate the reliability of the information provided (such as the experimental design or data collection methodology)
  • draw a conclusion or decide on a course of action to solve the problem
  • evaluate alternate conclusions
  • recognize that the text leaves some matters uncertain and propose additional research to address these matters.

The supporting documents in this section present and discuss real-life research results..



Critique-an-Argument

The Critique an Argument section contains five questions.  Students are presented with a brief argument about an authentic issue, and must use their critical-thinking skills to critique the given argument.  Some of the questions may require students to:

  • evaluate alternate conclusions
  • address additional information that could strengthen or weaken the argument
  • detect logical flaws and questionable assumptions in the argument
  • evaluate the reliability of information, including recognizing potential biases or conflicts of interest

 





Sample Questions

CLA provides a sample Performance Task and Structured-Response question in their Student Guide to the CLA+ <pdf>.