FSU Students Earn High Marks on National Learning Assessment

Fayetteville State University (FSU) students demonstrated growth in learning that is “well above expected” on a national assessment of higher order reasoning skills according to a report released on July 13 by the Council for Aid to Education (CAE).

The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) is used by higher education institutions to measure the impact they have on students’ development of critical thinking and writing skills.  It is unique among higher education assessment tools because it compares the actual scores of seniors to their expected scores based on their incoming academic abilities as freshmen.  Student performance is evaluated as “well below,” “below,” “at,” “above,” or “well above” the expected outcomes.

Since 2008, FSU students have participated in a national longitudinal study in which they completed the CLA as freshmen in 2008, as rising juniors in 2010, and as seniors in 2012.  Their average score as seniors was well above expected.  The CAE estimates this level of growth to be in the 90th to 99th percentile, meaning FSU’s gains were greater than 90% to 99% of institutions that participate in the CLA nationally.

“These results are remarkable,” Chancellor James A. Anderson said, “because they show that FSU is making a real difference in skills that are essential to our graduates’ success in the 21st century global economy.  All colleges and universities claim to develop these higher order reasoning skills in their students, but FSU has evidence to show that we actually do it.”

FSU began using the CLA in 2005, according to Dr. Jon Young, Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs.  It was selected because it requires students to demonstrate their reasoning skills through written communication rather than multiple-choice questions.   Beginning in 2007, he explained, the university launched a series of faculty development activities that help faculty use the CLA to improve teaching and learning.  “The credit for these strong results,” Young stated, “must go to FSU’s faculty who have worked so diligently to incorporate higher order reasoning skills into their classes.  Our faculty clearly add value to the students we serve.”

According to Dr. Marion Gillis-Olion, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, whose responsibilities include assessment and accreditation, FSU has made a strong institutional commitment to improving students’ critical thinking skills.  As part of SACS reaffirmation of accreditation, she explained, institutions must have a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) for improving student learning.  FSU’s QEP, “Making Evidence-Based Decisions,” focuses on further enhancing the skills assessed by the CLA.  “We are very pleased with these recent results,” she stated, “because it confirms that our institutional efforts are making a difference.”

FSU is the second-oldest public institution in North Carolina.  A member of the University of North Carolina System, FSU has nearly 6,000 students and offers degrees in more than 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

For more information, contact Dr. Jon Young, 910-672-1460 or jyoung@uncfsu.edu.