Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Richard Johnson-Sheehan

Committee Member 1

April Ginther

Committee Member 2

Janet Alsup

Committee Member 3

Bradley Dilger


The CLA+ and the Two Cultures: Writing Assessment and Educational Testing concerns the Collegiate Learning Assessment+, a standardized test of collegiate learning currently being piloted at Purdue, and its potential impacts on writing programs and pedagogy. From an empirical, theoretical, and historical perspective, I consider the test as an assessment of writing and college learning, and use it as a lens through which to understand traditional antagonisms between writing instructors and the educational testing industry. My research details the institutional and political conditions that led to the rise of the standardized assessment movement nationally and locally, and analyzes results from Purdue's piloting program for the test. I argue that literacy educators must adapt to the increasing prevalence of standardized testing at the collegiate level in a way that preserves our independence and autonomy, and that if undertaken with care this adaptation need not jeopardize our traditional ideals.