OAS Satisfaction Survey
The Collegiate Learning Assessment
Frequently Asked Questions for Faculty and Staff
- Why are we conducting CLA?
NIU participates in an initiative called the Voluntary System of Accountability, a initiative designed to increase transparency for public 4-year institutions. Participating universities share information about their university and students in a web template titled The College Portrait.
- Who participates in CLA?
With each annual administration of CLA, a minimum of 100 freshmen students and 100 seniors is sampled. Freshmen are sampled from sections of UNIV 101, while seniors are sampled from upper-division courses such as capstone courses.
- When does CLA testing take place?
The testing window for Spring 2013 is January 28th through February 28th. In order to accomodate every student, test sessions will be available mornings and afternoons on most weekdays. A select number of evening and Saturday sessions will also be available. Most will take place in one of the ITS computer labs. Students are allowed up to 90min to complete CLA (allotted time varies depend on task assigned). Thus, you will never half to forfeit class time for your students to take the CLA.
- How do my students sign up to take CLA?
Students will need to select from a list of scheduled times to take the CLA outside of class time. Some instructors may wish to arrange a time for their section to take CLA as a group. This is acceptable, assuming a mutually-agreeable time is available. Faculty members should notify the VSA Coordinatorin advance to reserve a computer lab.
- How does CLA participation benefit students?
Each student will receive an individualized score report highlighting their strengths and weaknesses in critical thinking, analytic reasoning, and written communication and comparing their performance to other NIU students and to students across the country. Students are free to highlight their participation and/or results on a resume or vita. The tasks and skills in CLA are real-world oriented and will benefit students in continued education and as they enter the workforce. By participating in a process that measures the value-added to NIU's undergraduates, students are also helping to shape the perception of what it means to have an NIU degree.
- Is CLA participation a significant burden on instructors? What is expected of me?
Please note again that you will not have to give up class time for your students to participate. Instructors should briefly explain the CLA requirement of their course to their students and may wish to include a brief statement on their course syllabi.
- Can I see an example of the tasks students encounter on CLA?
Yes. Sample tasks can be viewed here.
- How will I know if my class/section has been selected to be part of the sample for CLA?
Senior-level courses are being selected according to a five-year rotating cycle developed with the CLA Course Designation Forms that were submitted by department chairs in the summer of 2011.
- How do I explain the CLA requirement to my students?
Faculty/Instructors with sections participating in the CLA may wish to use some or all of the following to explain the CLA requirement to their students in their course syllabus or verbally:
"You have been selected to represent NIU in the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) this semester. The CLA measures your critical thinking, analytic reasoning, and written communication skills. You will receive a score report including your strengths and weaknesses on these skills and comparing your performance to other students at NIU and nationwide.
Students are expected to participate in assessment activities both as part of their regular instruction within a degree program as well as for the benefit of the university as a whole. For more information please refer to the section of the Undergraduate Catalog titled Assessment at Northern Illinois University, located at the bottom of the Undergraduate Academic Programs page of the catalog."
- Is CLA graded? Am I to include it when calculating course grades?
Performance on the CLA should not be factored into the course grade. Instructors can decide whether participation points will be assigned for completing CLA. As we aim to test the entire class/section, participation points have shown to be effective in motivating students to participate. We do not suggest offering extra credit as it implies that CLA is optional and leads to poor rates of participation
- Who can I contact for more information?
- For more information please call the Office of Assessment Services at 815-753-1197.
- You may also visit the CLA website for more information by clicking here
- Spring 2012 Results