Learning Outcomes

In order to have quality graduate education, individual courses must have learning outcomes that are appropriate for graduate students. Learning outcomes should emphasize the application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation levels of cognitive learning (see Bloom, 1956 for additional information on levels of learning). Graduate education “involves a greater depth of learning, increased specialization, and a more advanced level of instruction than undergraduate education” (CCGS Guidelines, p. 3). Furthermore, CCGS guidelines state that, “In the event that a graduate course is co-listed with an advanced undergraduate course, the approval process should require clearly defined expectations of graduate students that go well beyond the expectations of the undergraduates in the course.”

Higher levels of originality and independence are expected in graduate work compared to undergraduate work (c.f., Lumina Foundation Degree Qualifications Profile). In combined courses, the content of learning outcomes will most often be the same for undergraduates and graduate students, but graduate students should be expected to achieve higher levels of learning for the content. The level of learning is most often communicated through the verbs used in assessing learning outcomes. Examples of terms that reflect different levels of learning are presented in Bloom's Taxonomy of Measurable Verbs and are articulated in the following distinctions, which may be modified as needed in different disciplines.

Students will demonstrate:

At the 400 level:

Familiarity with content in subject area; development of independent thought; and knowledge of the research literature;

At the 500 level:

Development of competency in subject area;advanced level of independent thought; understanding of research literature, and ability to synthesize and apply it;

At the 600 level:

Development of content mastery; independent thought in subjects of increased complexity; critical understanding of research, and ability to contribute to the creation of new knowledge.

Learning Outcomes in Online Courses

Online courses should follow the same guidelines as traditional courses with regard to student learning outcomes. In addition, online courses should minimally receive a Quality Matters review or evaluation.


Assessment is a process of focusing on educational outcomes, assessing how well we are reaching them, and making changes to better serve our students.  Assessment helps Miami to learn about students’ experiences, to know whether or not our students are gaining the skills they need to succeed, and to improve our curricular and co-curricular offerings.  As an institution, we collect this information in a number of different ways.  Some information is collected by means of surveys or from questions on course evaluations.  Additionally, instructors and departments use assessment of student written work and other performances to determine if students are achieving the learning outcomes for a course or the desired outcomes in the major.  In some of your courses, instructors will collect your work for university assessment purposes. 

In addition to being evaluated by your course instructor, this academic work may be viewed by designated Miami University personnel to assess the achievement of broader program goals within Miami University.  Short quotations from your work that do not identify you may be included in assessment reports.  Any work that can be connected with you will not be shared with a public audience nor will it be used for other purposes, such as published research, without your explicit written consent. Assessment data are used by the university to determine how effective we are at helping students in general be successful at reaching learning goals, not to evaluate your work as an individual student. 

References on Student Learning Outcomes.

1. Bloom, B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives, handbook I: Cognitive domain. New York: David McKay.
2. Regents Advisory Counsel of Graduate Schools Guidelines.
3. Degree Qualifications Profile by the Lumina Foundation.
4. Quality Matters.