Council of Independent Colleges Appoints Springfield College to Consortium Assessing Effective Teaching, LearningFebruary 21, 2008
SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Feb. 21, 2008 – Why do students learn more effectively at some colleges than at others? The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) has included Springfield College in a consortium of institutions of higher education that are committed to finding answers to that question using the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA).
Springfield College will be one of 35 institutions of higher education participating in the third phase of the CIC/CLA Consortium covering the years 2008 through 2011. The college was chosen from 68 institutions that applied. Earlier phases involved 33 other institutions of higher learning.
Participating colleges will each administer the CLA from fall 2008 through spring 2011 to 100 first-year students and 100 fourth-year students. The CLA will be a key element in each institution’s strategy to improve teaching and learning.
The CLA is a test developed by the Council for Aid to Education (CAE) and is unlike other learning assessment tools, which measure students’ knowledge in a discipline. The CLA measures gains in students’ critical thinking, analytic reasoning, problem solving, and written communication, which are key competencies essential to education.
Results of the CLA show whether an institution’s tested students perform at higher, lower, or expected levels compared to students with similar SAT scores at other institutions. An additional “value added” score shows how first-year to fourth-year gains on these higher order skills compare with other institutions’ results.
According to Springfield College Vice President for Academic Affairs Jean A. Wyld, Ph.D., “At a time when institutions of higher learning must provide solid evidence of the quality of their education, the CLA will enable us to document the effectiveness of our teaching and learning experiences. These test data, and other data that we routinely collect, will inform our efforts to continually improve our campus education. As a member of the consortium, we will gain the advantage of sharing results and strategies with other participating institutions.”
The CLA presents real-world problems that require students to analyze materials, assess evidence, draw appropriate conclusions, and make their own recommendations. Scoring the tests are trained professionals, rather than computers.
A Springfield College CIC/CLA Team, consisting of Wyld; Professor of Research and Statistics Mary Ann Coughlin, D.P.E.; and Associate Professor of Psychology Marjorie Marcotte, Ed.D., will lead the project on the campus. They will attend annual summer meetings with consortium members to share CLA results, and they will work collaboratively with their peers at other institutions to achieve their assessment objectives. They also will participate in Web-based conferences.
The CLA will add a new element to Springfield College’s existing efforts to assess student learning, improve instruction, and strengthen the overall educational program.