Entering Research Learning Assessment (ERLA)

What is ERLA?

The Entering Research Learning Assessment (ERLA) is a set of parallel research trainee and mentor surveys that assess trainee learning gains in the seven areas of research trainee development articulated in the Entering Research conceptual framework. Items to assess trainee gains in equity and inclusion awareness and skills expand upon the scope of previously available multidimensional research trainee assessment tools and the parallel survey results can be compared to measure the degree of alignment between research trainees’ and mentors’ assessments of trainee learning gains. Validity evidence supporting the use of ERLA with both undergraduate and graduate research trainees has been published (Butz and Branchaw, 2020).

What does it measure?

The Entering Research Learning Assessment measures trainee gains in seven areas of trainee development:

  • Research Comprehension & Communication Skills
  • Practical Research Skills
  • Research Ethics
  • Researcher Identity
  • Researcher Confidence & Independence
  • Equity & Inclusion Awareness & Skills
  • Professional & Career Development Skills

The ERLA survey for trainees contains 53 items, and the parallel ERLA survey for mentors contains 47 items. Items ask trainees/mentors to self-assess/assess trainee gains over the course of their research experience, using a 5-point scale from no gain to great gain.

How can I use ERLA?

The ERLA can be used on its own to assess trainee learning, or it can be used as part of an overall research course or program evaluation plan in conjunction with other measures to evaluate the broader course or program goals (e.g., recruitment of targeted student populations, quality of mentoring, value of time spent in research vs. time spent in professional development programming, quality of the research experience, etc.).

How can I obtain a copy of the ERLA?

Download ERLA Surveys & Scoring Guide

The ERLA, along with other research experience assessment and implementation evaluation tools, is available in the Entering Research book and in Butz and Branchaw (2020). Trained facilitators of Entering Research and our research collaborators are eligible to access free online versions of ERLA and aggregate reports of their data. To inquire about research collaboration opportunities, please contact enteringresearch@education.wisc.edu.