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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 Gallery at The Ave student worker interviews exhibition artists

Working at the periphery of student life, staff members hold technical and administrative positions that allow for the smooth operation of the college’s day-to-day and long-term activities. When they’ve clocked out of the MIAD building, they’re home, in the studio, outside in nature– and exercising their own creative muscles and sustaining personal arts practices. “After Hours,” the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) Gallery at the Ave’s latest exhibition is the first of its kind for the college where staff talents are in the limelight.

Emerging Technology Center hosts Technique of the Week

During the fall 2023 semester, the Lubar Emerging Technology Center at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) hosts “Technique of the Week” demonstrations for students, faculty and staff. MIAD community members are invited to attend presentations on everything from 3D scanning objects to fermentation to Minecraft. Most recently, attendees played pinball on a handmade virtual pinball machine.

Inaugural Latine Student Exhibition announces winners

Four students were honored at the inaugural Latine Student Exhibition, on view at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) until October 13, 2023. Coordinated by rhi anderson-martinez, executive director of equity and inclusion at MIAD, the exhibition highlights and celebrates the art and design skills of MIAD’s Latine students during Hispanic Heritage Month.

MIAD Fine Art faculty selected for national Olmsted panel

Brad Anthony Bernard, professor of fine art at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD), will participate in a panel discussion about Frederick Law Olmsted at the 2023 annual conference of the Olmsted Network in Milwaukee. An accomplished muralist, Bernard designed a mural depicting Olmsted which will be displayed at a public mural and sculpture garden in Milwaukee.