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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 Board of Trustees welcomes June 2024 new members

At their June 2024 meeting, the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) Board of Trustees welcomed Sarah Smith Pancheri and Keven Ringgold as new members serving on behalf of MIAD under the leadership of Board Chair Deanna Tillisch and college president Jeff Morin.

Guardian Fine Art Services donates printing press

Students returning to classes in the Printmaking Lab at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) this fall will notice a new addition—an additional printing press donated to the college by Guardian Fine Art Services.

MIAD showcases Layton School of Art alum Lois Ehlert

This summer, the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) is pleased to host an exhibition of work by renowned Wisconsin illustrator and artist Lois Ehlert in “Lois Ehlert: A Creative Life.” Ehelrt’s work is joined by an exhibition of work by MIAD students in their transformative junior years.