CAE Study Shows Essential College and Career Readiness Skills Can Be Effectively Assessed in Higher Education Fields of Study

NEW YORK, May 09, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Council for Educational Aid, Inc. (CAE), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support student academic and career success, today released new research that showed that students in different fields of study, such as humanities or STEM, do not perform better or worse on various versions of an assessment of critical thinking, problem solving, and written communication skills. The results demonstrate that these skills, which are predictive of academic achievement and in high demand by today’s employers, can be measured using carefully designed and developed performance-based assessments with little concern for the workplace. interaction of a student’s field of study on his or her results.

Doris Zahner, Ph.D. of CAE, Director of Studies; Olivia Cortellini, Senior Reporting and Data Analyst; and Tess Dawber, Ph.D., senior measurement scientist, are the authors of the study “Assessing Students’ Differential Performance of Critical Thinking and Written Communication Skills Across Fields of Study” and recently presented the results at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the world’s largest gathering of educational researchers.

The research included 44,191 seniors who graduated from 263 U.S. public and private four-year institutions in five major fields of study: science and engineering, social sciences, business, aid/services, and humanities and languages. Students participated in CAE’s Assessment of Collegiate Learning (CLA+) between Fall 2013 and Spring 2018. CLA+ is an authentic, performance-based assessment of critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills writing, which includes a 60-minute performance task and a 30-minute task. minute series of 25 multiple-choice questions.

“Several previous studies have shown the role these essential skills play in a student’s success in all areas of study,” Cortellini said. “Our research results suggest that a student’s major field of study does not significantly impact our ability to effectively assess their skills through performance tasks, confirming a 2012 study by Bradley and Steedle with similar results.”

While most students (about 80%) consider themselves proficient in the essential academic and professional skills of critical thinking, problem solving, and written communication, the percentage of employers who rate recent graduates as proficient in these skills differs significantly: 56% for critical thinking/problem solving and 42% for communication (National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2018).

“In addition to content knowledge, we need to be sure that students learn these higher-order skills, which are rarely explicitly taught,” Cortellini said. “These skills are relevant to every field of study, so it is essential for us to ensure that there is an independent assessment of the field that works for all students. By assessing these skills at the beginning of the students’ academic journey and By providing targeted developmental support based on assessment results, educators can improve student academic and career outcomes.”

To view the AERA conference presentation, visit the CAE website website.

About CAE
A not-for-profit organization with a mission to improve student outcomes, CAE develops personalized, performance-based assessments that authentically measure students’ essential skills in college and career readiness and identify student growth opportunities. CAE’s Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA+) for higher education, College and Career Readiness Assessment (CCRA+) for secondary education and Success Skills Assessment (SSA+) for all levels assess the skills most in demand by institutions teachers and employers: critical thinking, problem solving and effective written communication. According to CAE research, these skills are predictive of positive academic and career outcomes. CAE also partners with customers to design innovative performance assessments that measure key concepts for students, educators and institutions, including subject-specific and grade-specific assessments. Since 2002, more than 800,000 students at more than 1,300 colleges and colleges around the world have taken CAE assessments. To learn more, please visit

Media Contact
Lara Cohn
RoseComm for CAE
[email protected]

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