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Assessment of Student Learning


How do we know our students are learning? Through assessment. Assessment is an ongoing process for determining student achievement of the core skills essential to their success after graduation. Assessment requires the establishment of clear and measurable learning outcomes and collecting evidence that identifies how well students are achieving these outcomes.


MIAD has three levels of learning outcomes:

  • Eight College-Wide Learning Outcomes are measured across all four years of study. These outcomes are measured in the majors, as well as in Foundations and Liberal Studies courses.
  • Major-Specific Learning Outcomes are assessed in each of the college’s five majors.
  • Individual Course Learning Outcomes identify the specific skills, knowledge, and abilities students must master in order to receive credit for the course.

MIAD’s formal assessment activities focus on measuring College-Wide and Major-Specific Learning Outcomes. Evidence of student achievement toward these outcomes is gathered, compiled and analyzed. Faculty then meet to review, discuss, and interpret the evidence. Based on their analyses, faculty identify ways to make improvements to teaching and learning.


For two reasons:

  • We want to ensure that our students are learning and that we can measure that learning.
  • We are committed to continuous improvement.

Several years ago, in a book entitled Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on Campus, researchers found that many students’ skills in critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing actually decline while they are in college. That’s not very good news for the students enrolled in the colleges that the researchers studied. It suggests why many people distrust higher education. What’s the point of attending college if students’ skills decline?

At MIAD we conduct assessment to ensure our students’ skills improve throughout their college careers. Our assessment research at MIAD reveals:

  • Over the past 6 years, first-year students’ critical and creative thinking skills are improving.
  • Over the past 6 years, first-year students’ research, communication, and reasoning skills are improving.
  • Second-year students demonstrate significant growth in critical and creative thinking skills over first-year students.
  • In all majors, seniors consistently demonstrate significantly high rates of growth in their studio skills over first-year students. While first-year students show evidence of approaching competency, seniors show clear evidence of mastery.

In other words, the college has an ongoing and meaningful program for measuring our students’ learning. We have evidence that students’ skills and knowledge are growing throughout their four years. In support of their professional readiness, faculty make sure that all of our students:

  • Develop learning portfolios to show evidence of their growth across four years
  • Work with professional artists and designers throughout their four years
  • Develop writing, communication and critical thinking skills through four required writing courses and a writing-based liberal studies education
  • Develop senior exhibits and portfolios which are critiqued by professionals

At the same time, faculty are constantly reviewing student growth and seeking new ways to improve the learning experience that MIAD offers.


MIAD student work highlights Unfinished Legacy

Unfinished Legacy, a brand started by Milwaukee artist Brema Brema, enjoyed a promotional video created by current Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design senior Hannah Davis for her Digital Media: Video Production elective course in fall 2022. The semester-long project culminated in a three-minute video and three shorter clips advertising the brand.

Two MIAD alumni featured in Museum of Wisconsin Art

The Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA), located in West Bend, has announced its “Ten at Ten” exhibition celebrating the work of ten emerging artists for the tenth anniversary in its new Mothership building. Two MIAD alumni, Lindsey Yeager ’21 (New Studio Practice: Fine Arts & Illustration) and Eduardo Zavala ’22 (NSP: Fine Arts), were selected to show work at the exhibition.

“Girl Hero” creator, MIAD alum, on art and subversion

During her final year at MIAD, Zachary Ochoa’s senior thesis was majorly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ochoa ’20 (New Studio Practice: Fine Arts) bounced back by creating a fantastical universe of paintings featuring Girl Hero, a trans Mickey Mouse-esque warrior.

Milwaukee sculpture business tapped for NBA trophy

Milwaukee is fast becoming a national hotspot for basketball. Not only is the city home to NBA champions the Milwaukee Bucks, it recently played a pivotal role in creating the newly designed Michael Jordan Trophy, awarded to the Kia NBA Most Valuable Player of the year. Milwaukee’s Vanguard Sculpture Services, the “best fine art foundry on planet Earth,” according to their website, poured and cast the final trophy.

Design Internship approved for NEA grant

Milwaukee high schoolers are getting a head start on their creative careers through the Design Internship at Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. The free, year-long program was recently approved for a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to expand the program for 2023-2024.