Measuring College Behavior Beyond Academics: UniLOA Website

This Resource Review was peer-reviewed by a member of the AIR publications volunteer panel, and the ideas, opinions, and perspectives expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily AIR. Members are invited to join the discussion by commenting below.  

Reviewed by Jeanne L. McAlister 


The University Learning Outcomes Assessment (UniLOA) Measuring College Behaviors Beyond Academics website provides valuable information about a “nationally-normed, highly reliable and valid measure of the ‘rest’ of student growth, learning, and development (GLD).” The UniLOA instrument was created by Mark Frederick and Will Barratt of the Center for Learning Outcomes Assessment (CLOA) at the Indiana State University Bayh College of Education. UniLOA surveys traditional and non-traditional students at large and small private and public institutions; the survey is administered in electronic and paper forms. The purpose of the UniLOA instrument is to provide student affairs and academic affairs professionals with data to address areas of concern and make informed decisions regarding support and services for students. 

Since its inception eight years ago, over 400,000 students have participated in UniLOA. In the electronic administration of the survey, students are provided with individual reports upon completion. From the data gathered with this survey instrument, researchers have been able to delve deeper into seven behavioral domains that play an integral part in student engagement and success: critical thinking, self-awareness, communication, diversity, citizenship, membership and leadership, and relationships. Like other engagement survey instruments, students are asked behavior-specific and demographic questions, and the data gathered are compared to national averages.  

The studies housed on the UniLOA website focus on global questions related to the seven behavioral domains. The Reports page of the website includes in-depth analyses of student subpopulations, such as student athletes, fraternity members, and students with prior or current military service. These reports provide valuable insight and may serve as an impetus for researchers to dig more deeply into their institutions’ data. One example of a UniLOA report available on the website is The American College Fraternity: Impact of Membership on Student Growth, Learning, and Development (2009). This publication highlights the results for the global questions, individual and composite means of the seven domains, and provides graphs that show the contrast between the national mean, gender mean, and fraternity mean within each domain. An example of the types of conclusions drawn from these data is that “fraternity men score higher than the national mean of all students as well as the national mean for males on all seven of the domains measured by UniLOA, with the exception of scoring lower than the national mean on the communication domain” (p. 2).  

Another UniLOA report, Intercollegiate Athletes Report of Means (2011), highlights the finding that by the eighth semester in college, student athletes’ growth in the seven domains has increased at a rate higher than the rate realized by non-athletes (p. 2). These findings were also compiled in a report submitted to the National Collegiate Athletic Association entitled Growth, Learning, and Development of Intercollegiate Student-Athletes (2010) that is available on this site as well. 

Other areas of the UniLOA site that may be of interest to institutional researchers is the Psychometrics page with downloadable documents regarding the validity and reliability of UniLOA results, as well as a four-page FastFacts brochure that provides construct definitions for the UniLOA Domains (2013). The UniLOA site also provides valuable links to other higher education sites and reports that are similar in content or subject matter. UniLOA administrators are in the process of collecting data for the current academic year and plan to issue an annual report in Summer 2013. 

While the UniLOA site contains interesting and valuable information for higher education professionals, some of the layout and design features could be improved. For example, the link to the Reports page is in small text at the bottom of the home page, rather than at the top of the page with other prominent links. Also, the News page hosts problematic links and requires the user to open pdf documents. Some attention to accessibility by the site administrators would make the site more user-friendly.  

Institutional researchers who are interested in learning more about the UniLOA survey instrument for their campus or about UniLOA reports can find contact information on the website. Also, UniLOA has a demonstration site where a user can register a valid email address to receive a link to the survey instrument.

Jeanne L. McAlister is Research Coordinator in the Office of Planning, Research, and Assessment at the University of Southern Indiana. 



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Total Comments: 7
Meg posted on 6/13/2013 8:40 AM
Didn't know about this website and its assessment tool; thank you! While it is yet another indirect measure of student achievement, it appears to lend itself to identifying some interesting learning domains.
Nancy posted on 6/13/2013 9:22 AM
I hadn't heard of this tool before; but it looks like it could give some interesting insight into our students behaviors. I'll need to have a look.
Eric posted on 6/13/2013 2:25 PM
Thank you for sharing this! We need to better understand our students and their outcomes, and this provides us with a better picture of the behavioral domains.
Terry posted on 6/13/2013 2:38 PM
I had not seen this web site but I am very interested in learning more about their methods.
Nevada posted on 6/13/2013 2:49 PM
This is an invaluable tool for institutions seeking their True North and directional path to having a culture of assessment and evidence of how they transform the lives of students.
Evelina posted on 6/18/2013 10:52 AM
Thank you for this valuable information. I will definitely review this tool in detail. It is useful to be able to use normed instruments and to compare against national benchmarks.
Michelle posted on 6/18/2013 10:47 PM
Thank you for sharing this information! These measures may help relate the importance of academic learning and student life, providing a more holistic view of student growth in college.