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Wilfrid Laurier University Laurier Brantford
February 5, 2016

Canadian Excellence

Getting the Most Out of Your BA

A recent study out of the United States that used the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) to gauge students' "ability to perform tasks requiring critical thinking, complex reasoning, and written communications" (1) included the following findings (6-7, emphasis in bold added):

"Specifically, our results identified the following measures associated with academic rigor that were conducive to improved student performance on the CLA:

  • Students who spent more hours studying alone had greater gains on the CLA.
  • Students who took courses requiring both significant reading (more than 40 pages per week) and writing (more than 20 pages over the course of the semester) had higher rates of learning.
  • Students reporting faculty with high expectations at their institutions had higher rates of learning. ...

While educational practices associated with academic rigor facilitated learning, [some other] measures ... did not:

  • Students who spent more hours studying with peers showed diminishing growth on the CLA.
  • Students who spend greater hours in fraternities and sororities had decreases rates of learning.
  • Other student activities, such as working on or off campus, participating in campus clubs/organizations, and volunteering, were not related to learning. [I.e., they did not detract from performance on the CLA.]"
Source: Richard Arum, Josipa Roksa and Esther Cho, Improving Undergraduate Learning: Findings and Policy Recommendations from the SSRC-CLA Longitudinal Project (2011) Online. Accessed: June 17, 2011. .