The School of Journalism and Mass Communication is committed to assessing student learning and adapting our curriculum to address student needs. We have five learning goals with a number of learning objectives that we address in our courses, from introduction to advanced.

Law & Ethics Learning Goal

Understand and apply the principles and laws of freedom of speech and press in real space and cyberspace, and demonstrate an understanding of professional ethical principles and their historical development.

Learning Objective 1. Students will demonstrate knowledge of the history of the First Amendment and awareness of the rights protected by the First Amendment in different media contexts.

Learning Objective 2. Students will demonstrate knowledge of the main areas of media law, including libel, invasion of privacy, obscenity, commercial speech, intellectual property, and the freedom of the press.

Learning Objective 3. Students will demonstrate an ability to anticipate and recognize ethical issues when they arise and to reason through them taking multiple perspectives and contexts into account.

Learning Objective 4. Students will demonstrate an ability to explain their ethical approaches and reasoning about a particular dilemma in terms that can be understood by a diverse group of people.

Media Literacy Learning Goal

Understand the principles of media literacy and develop the skills necessary to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media messages across multiple media domains.

Learning Objective 1. Students will demonstrate knowledge of the basic tenets of media literacy and how media literacy relates to their personal media habits and professional development.

Learning Objective 2. Students will develop critical thinking skills to analyze and interpret media messages through an understanding of media practices and institutions.

Writing and Storytelling Learning Goal

Understand that clear, concise, correct writing is at the heart of journalistic expression and that reporting and communicating it effectively requires a knowledge and achievement of the highest, professionally-accepted standards in all work.

Learning Objective 1. Students will demonstrate the ability to gather factual story elements, and to evaluate and express them in logical, narrative forms for multiple media and audiences.

Learning Objective 2. Students will display the ability to access and analyze data, report facts accurately, research, and edit information responsibly and in a manner commensurate with professional standards.

Learning Objective 3. Students will demonstrate the ability to apply above concepts in a manner that is sensitive to audiences across all media.

Learning Objective 4. Students will demonstrate an ability to produce media that serve the needs and interests of diverse communities and reflect their voices and experiences.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Learning Goal

Understand and value the diversity of groups (including communities defined by gender, race, ethnicity, age, religion, and sexual orientation) in a global society. Enhance students’ ability to effectively communicate with people from different backgrounds and experiences.

Learning Objective 1: Students will demonstrate sensitivity to and understanding of the role of media representations and stereotypes in shaping perceptions of people and groups, particularly marginalized or underrepresented groups.

Learning Objective 2: Students will demonstrate an understanding of the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in media professions and productions.

Learning Objective 3: Students will demonstrate an ability to recognize how our personal experiences and bias influence our perspectives on the world.

Media Culture and Industries

Understand the history of media in the context of industries and identify transformations in audiences, engagement, and business practice over time. Grasp the significance of advances in mass communication technology for cultural production in domestic and global media markets from the printing press to the latest digital platforms. Trace the production of cultural meanings across historical periods as well as connections between business models and news consumption.

Learning Objective 1. Students will demonstrate knowledge of technological innovations in media and their political, social, and economic contexts and uses. 

Learning Objective 2. Students will demonstrate knowledge of how meaning is created in media culture.

Learning Objective 3. Students will demonstrate historical reasoning in approaching media history.


To assess whether and the extent to which students achieve our stated learning goals, SJMC faculty employ the following direct measures:

To assess the Law and Ethics learning goal, two surveys, one for law and one for ethics, that test students’ knowledge of freedom of expression and ethics are administered every fall semester in JMC:1300 Introduction to Journalism and Strategic Communication and all 4000-level courses.

Learning Goals 2-5 have associated rubrics that are used to evaluate student work in lower- and upper-division JMC courses.

Rubrics for Writing and Storytelling are used to evaluate a sample of student projects in JMC:2010 Reporting and Writing and JMC:2020 Multimedia Storytelling and student projects in selected 3000-and 4000-level Writing/Storytelling and Designing/Producing courses.

Rubrics for Media Literacy, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Media Industries and Culture are used to evaluate a sample of student projects in JMC:1100 Introduction to Media Effects, JMC:1200 Introduction to Media and Culture, and JMC:1500 Introduction to Social Media and student work in selected 3000-level Understanding Media courses and Managing/Planning courses.

Although the SJMC does not require students to complete an internship, nearly all students complete at least one, and many complete two or more. The SJMC employs an internship coordinator to assist and supervise students during their internships. We require coordinators of internship programs to evaluate student performance according to the school’s stated learning goals. The SJMC uses these internship reports as another direct measure of student learning.

SJMC students are expected to be proficient in the five learning goals by the time they finish their 4000-level course work.

Finally, in addition to these direct measures, the SJMC considers several kinds of indirect measures. These include:

  • Retention and Graduation Rates
  • Student Placement
  • Course Syllabi
  • Student Performance in Contests and Competitions
  • Freshman Entrance and Senior Exit Interviews 


The SJMC has a standing assessment subcommittee of the undergraduate committee. Among other things, this committee is charged with ensuring that the appropriate assessment data are collected, with organizing and analyzing these data, and with making recommendations, if any, to the SJMC faculty. The committee collects data during the fall semester and analyzes the data during the spring semester. Recommendations to the faculty, if any, for curricular changes are made toward the end of the spring semester.