CLA tests seniors’ critical thinking and analysis

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CLA tests seniors’ critical thinking and analysis

Bob Jones University is administering the Collegiate Learning Assessment to seniors in order to evaluate how students have grown in core skills during their time at BJU.

The first 50 seniors took the test last Saturday, and the next 50 will go tomorrow. This is the third year in a row BJU has given these assessment tests. They test how well students are learning general education skills such as English, writing and critical thinking.

Doug Garland, the director of assessment at BJU, said the University can use the results from these tests to show parents, prospective students and accreditors just how impactful the education is here at the University.

In order for the test results to be representative of BJU at large, 100 freshmen must take the test during their first semester and 100 seniors during their last semester.

The CLA consists of two parts. In the first part, called selective response, students are given eight or 10 documents about a subject. Students must read and analyze them to answer a series of questions.

“They’re fairly hard questions,” Garland said. “It’s not like ‘in what year did Columbus discover America.’ They’re much harder.”

In the second portion of the CLA test, called performance task, students are given a scenario in which you have to solve an issue. The possible scenario would be to explain to an employer that a product you are in charge of is defective. After reading, students write a short essay describing how they would handle the situation and why.

Once the results come in, BJU is able to compare its scores with those of other colleges who have also taken the assessment test.

If CLA scores do not meet BJU expectations, the University might implement strategies such as training sessions for faculty or generate new types of assignments that will help students learn core skills better.

Last year, BJU found both freshmen and seniors scored in the proficient range, a good score for a university to have.

“We are really happy that students are scoring at that range,” Garland said.

While it is not required of every student, there are incentives for freshmen and seniors to take the tests.

Mrs. Rebecca Weier, director of First-year Experience, said the test is offered to students to take as an elective in their Freshman Seminar class and will allow them to submit their schedules with the seniors. Seniors, taking the test receive $50 towards graduation fees.