ALFI Assessment Tools

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) aims to help every college and university become an Adult Learning Focused Institution (ALFI)—one that offers specialized services to meet the unique needs of adult students. To achieve this goal, we have developed comprehensive principles and assessment tools that you can use to assess and improve your adult student services. You can also become part of our coalition of institutions committed to improving their services to adult learners.

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Discover CAEL's Principles for Serving Adult Learners Effectively

An Adult Learning Focused Institution (ALFI) excels in these ways:


Conducts its outreach to adult learners by overcoming barriers in time, place, and tradition in order to create lifelong access to educational opportunities

Life & Career Planning

Addresses adult learners’ life and career goals before or at the onset of enrollment in order to assess and align its capacities to help learners reach their goals


Promotes choice using an array of payment options for adult learners in order to expand equity and financial flexibility

Assessment of Learning Outcomes

Defines and assesses the knowledge, skills, and competencies acquired by adult learners—both from the curriculum and from life and work experience—in order to assign credit and confer degrees with rigor

Teaching-Learning Process

Faculty uses multiple methods of instruction (including experiential and problem-based methods) for adult learners in order to connect curricular concepts to useful knowledge and skills

Student Support Systems

Assists adult learners using comprehensive academic and student support systems in order to enhance students’ capacities to become self-directed, lifelong learners


Uses technology to provide relevant and timely information and to enhance the learning experience

Strategic Partnerships

Engages in strategic relationships, partnerships, and collaborations with employers and other organizations in order to develop and improve educational opportunities for adult learners


Supports guided pathways that lead into and from the institution's programs and services in order to ensure that students' learning will apply usefully to achieving their educational and career goals

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Assess How Your Institution Measures Up

CAEL offers robust ALFI tools to help you understand how well your college or university is doing with adult students.

Use what you learn from the survey and reporting tools to:

  • Leverage limited resources in the most advantageous manner
  • Customize programs to enhance retention rates
  • Prepare for accreditation review
  • Develop and prioritize strategic plans
  • Create recruitment message

Institutional Self-Assessment Survey (ISAS)
Completed by a cross-institutional team of administrators and faculty, the ISAS evaluates a wide range of activities, policies, and practices for adult students in your institution—from financial policies to assessing prior learning. It offers a unique opportunity for dialogue about adult learners across departments.

Adult Learner Inventory™ (ALI)
Completed by students 25 and older who are earning undergraduate degrees, the ALI measures both satisfaction and levels of importance. In the end, you get a list of your institution’s strengths (high importance, high satisfaction) and challenges (high importance, low satisfaction) that show you how to better meet your adult learners’ needs. It also reveals what issues should receive top priority so you can focus your strategic planning efforts on the issues your adult students identify.

Put It All Together: The Adult Learning Focused Institution (ALFI) Report
Used together, the Institutional Self-Assessment Survey and the Adult Learner Inventory compare faculty and administration views of existing adult programs with the perceptions of adult learners, providing a complete snapshot that you can use to improve your programs.

The ALFI report provides:

  • A detailed campus report on the findings from both surveys
  • Comparative data on how the perceptions of adult students match up to the perceptions of faculty and administration
  • National benchmarking data to compare an institution’s results with institutions serving adults nationwide
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Order the ALFI Toolkit

For more information on the ALFI toolkit and to order, please contact Laurie Shoulter-Karall by phone at 312-499-2640 or by email at

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Join the Coalition of Adult Learning Focused Institutions

The ALFI Coalition is an alliance of CAEL member colleges and universities that strive continuously to improve their programs and services for adult learners. Coalition participants use the ALFI Assessment Tools to assess their programs regularly and share “best practices” with other institutions. View ALFI Coaltion