The CLA Longitudinal Project emerges from a collaborative partnership between the Social Science Research Council and the Pathways to College Network, with technical assistance in data collection provided by the Council for Aid to Education. This large-scale endeavor including a wide range of four-year institutions aims to examine how individual experiences and institutional contexts are related to students’ development of critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills, as measured by the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA). Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa co-direct this project.
The study has yielded important initial findings, which are critical for informing policy and practice as well as for heightening public interest on issues of learning in higher education. Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (University of Chicago Press) is a book based on the first wave of the study.
The second wave of the project extended our analysis of student learning through graduation. The CLA was administered to students again in their senior year of college (Spring 2009). Similar to the first wave of the project, we collected supplemental data on student background, college experiences, and course-taking patterns (collected via a survey and college transcripts). These findings which illuminate how various factors influence cognitive growth in higher education during not only the first two, but all four years of college, are presented in the policy report Improving Undergraduate Learning: Findings and Policy Recommendations from the SSRC-CLA Longitudinal Project.
We have completed data collection and have begun analysis of survey and interview data from Spring 2011. This third wave differs from our earlier analyses as it follows students as they leave college and enter graduate school and the labor market. (Students who have graduated on time are two years out of college at this time of data collection.) This will allow us to examine how student learning in undergraduate institutions is related to post-graduation outcomes. Descriptive findings can be found in our most recent report “Documenting Uncertain Times: Post-Graduate Outcomes of the Academically Adrift Cohort.”