In an effort to promote research regarding student learning outcomes in higher education, the Council for Aid to Education (CAE) makes Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA+) data available to researchers and scholarly organizations.
The CLA+ is an instrument that directly assesses critical-thinking and writing skills. It does so through cognitively demanding, open-ended performance tasks and analytic writing tasks. Since the inception of the CLA+, CAE has amassed data on more than 200,000 students across hundreds of post-secondary and secondary schools.
The CLA+ dataset consists of de-identified student records. Each record is associated with a de-identified institution. Records include self-reported demographic information (e. g., gender, race/ethnicity), registrar-reported academic information (e. g., GPA, SAT scores), and CLA+ scores. CAE encourages the use of CLA+ data, in combination with data from other sources, to investigate important issues such as the relationship between institutional resources and student learning.
CLA+ data use may take several forms. In one model, the study requires additional data collection from the students that are part of the designated CLA+ sample. With the facilitation of CAE and the consent of participating students and institutions, this additional data collection may be woven into the administration of the CLA+. This model was used by researchers at the Social Science Research Council to produce the dataset used for Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (Arum & Roksa, 2011) which explores individual factors associated with undergraduate learning.
In another model, researchers may leverage the CLA+ data in CAE’s historical archives in combination with school-level data from other sources (e. g., NCES) to investigate school characteristics related to student development of higher-order skills. Although CAE cannot make known the identities of the schools in the CLA+ dataset, CAE can merge the CLA+ data with school-level data provided by the researchers to prepare a new de-identified dataset for analysis. Other options for CLA+ data use exist as well.
Requests for access to CLA+ data should address the purpose of the proposed research and the role of CLA+ data in that research. Proposals should be accompanied by the curriculum vitae of the study’s primary investigator. All proposals will be reviewed by an advisory committee before an approval decision has been made.