Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness

University-wide Student Learning Outcomes

All academic, academic-support, and student-support programs either directly or indirectly foster the following student learning outcomes:

  • Students will realize the specific learning outcomes for their chosen disciplines.
  • Students will apply their specialized knowledge in their careers
  • Students will demonstrate communication fluency
  • Students will consider diverse perspectives and solutions
  • Students will engage in scholarly or scientific inquiry

Outcome Development

Staff from Institutional Effectiveness took a bottom-up approach to developing the university-wide student learning outcomes. Based on an extensive content analysis, these staff members evaluated 957 outcomes from 207 academic and 23 academic support units. Of the 957 outcomes, 789 (82.4%) were designated as learning outcomes and the remainder were program outcomes. A synthesis of these 789 learning outcomes revealed 10 broad themes as defined by the Degree Qualifications Profiles and the Council for Advanced Standards (CAS). The following chart describes the categories, their definitions, and the number of learning outcomes that map to each area.

Outcome Category Category Description Number of related MSU Learning Outcomes
Specialized / Discipline Knowledge

Relates to concepts or knowledge areas in the students’ disciplines including the following:

  • familiarity with major theories/literature
  • awareness of current trends/problems
  • discipline-specific technology
  • techniques
  • application of knowledge if measures rely on tests or knowledge-based rubrics.
317 (40.2%)
Career Decisions Describes the application or practice of content knowledge to a specific field, professional dispositions, problem-solving in the profession, professional development, and use of technology in a specific profession. 151 (19.1%)
Communication Fluency Constructs and understands coherent arguments, narratives, explanations in written, oral, aural, and other communication formats. Uses correct style, tone, and medium for target audiences. 116 (14.7%)
Scientific and Scholarly Inquiry Seeks new knowledge or creative expression through scholarship and research practices. Includes synthesizing literature or determining appropriate theories for particular problems, as well as employing appropriate research methodologies. Note that the analyzing quantitative data is a separate intellectual skill. 114 (14.4%)
Engaging Diverse Perspectives Frames a problem in terms of two or more political, cultural, historical, and technological forces; explores and evaluates competing perspectives (critical thinking); and presents reasoned analysis of the issue while demonstrating consideration of diverse perspectives. 49 (6.2%)
Collaborative Skills Ability to work collaboratively with others toward common goals. Includes leadership development. 16 (2.0%)
Quantitative Literacy Constructs mathematical expressions for issues and forms valid arguments based on mathematical reasoning. 11 (1.4%)
Global and Civic Engagement Actively seeks to alleviate civic, social, environmental, and economic challenges. Includes immersive exposure to cultures outside of ones' own (e.g., Study Abroad). 9 (1.1%)
Ethical Reasoning Analyzes competing claims from scientific and technical practices with respect to benefits and harms to affected populations. 3 (0.4%)
Intrapersonal Development Realistic self-appraisal, self-understanding, and self-respect. Includes identity development and autonomy. 3 (0.4%)

Therefore, OIRE has concluded that 747 (94.7%) of all learning outcomes across Mississippi State University could be classified within one of the first five categories. From these categories the five university student learning outcomes were adopted.

The content analysis was conducted primarily by two staff members. They first used a loose coding technique to identify broad themes, and then distilled those themes into the ten outcome categories. They each re-read the outcomes and matched each one to one of the categories, following a pre-defined content analysis protocol. Each staff member completed the coding on her own and then validated her research with the other. Whenever they could not agree into which category a learning outcome would fit, they consulted a member of the Institutional Effectiveness Committee. An Excel spreadsheet contains the results of this analysis, mapping every learning outcome at the institution into one of these 10 learning outcome categories.

Linkage to Specialized Accreditation

MSU holds accreditation with more than 25 specialized accreditation agencies. Many of these accrediting bodies have identified student learning outcomes or competencies for their respective academic units. These units have already incorporated these outcomes into their annual IE report where possible. For example, the undergraduate units with the School of Engineering have identified the 11 ABET competencies as their desired learning outcomes. These learning outcomes were included in the content analysis described above, and the majority of them overlap with the 5 university student learning outcomes.


Contact Information

269-A Allen Hall
Mailstop: 9712

Phone: 662.325.3920
Fax: 662.325.3514