Adults learn constantly - on the job, in relationships, through hobbies, life events, reading, travel, volunteer work, etc. As an adult student, you may have acquired college-level learning outside the traditional college classroom in several areas. Assessing Prior Learning, or Portfolio Assessment is a way to receive college credit for learning that occurred outside the traditional college classroom and outside of training that has been formally reviewed for credit. The Portfolio Program provides a form of assessment, similar to testing, of what you have learned through your life experience and enables you to demonstrate that your learning is equivalent to a specific college course so you can "challenge" that course for credit.
- Portfolio assessment is a convenient, flexible way to earn credit for courses.
- Portfolio assessment is cost effective; it typically costs much less than college/course tuition.
- You can adapt portfolio assessment to your schedule and time constraints. Once you have successfully completed the IDS 102: Prior Learning Portfolio Development course, you are free to work as your schedule permits, preparing additional portfolios for submission at any time of the year.
- Portfolio assessment provides proof of your experiential learning, sometimes called life learning.
- Research has shown that the actual process of constructing a Prior Learning Portfolio has educational side benefits, including enhancing your understanding of your own learning.
Proving What You've Learned
Portfolio Assessment is not a fast or easy way to get credit without work. It will take time to plan, write, and prepare each portfolio.
Portfolio Assessment is not a way to simply submit your resume or documents to be evaluated for college credit. The portfolio process requires your active participation by writing a narrative and compiling supporting evidence that clearly links to the course learning objectives.
Portfolio Assessment is also not a way to get credit for experience alone. Experience is what happens to you. Learning is the result of thinking about what happened, analyzing and interpreting it, and using your interpretation to make decisions that affect how you perceive and deal with the world around you. You must be able to show that you have learned from your experience and it matches a college course.
Note that college credit is awarded for the knowledge gained, not for the experience itself, which is no guarantee of learning. Attending a 4-week training program doesn't ensure that you will learn what is taught in the classes, so we can't award credit on the basis of your attendance certificate alone. Just as students who sit in a classroom are asked to provide evidence of their learning through papers and tests, you are asked to provide proof that you really do have the knowledge you claim.
Being able to show evidence that you were there and that college-level material was being presented is a step in the right direction, but such evidence must be bolstered by demonstration of the knowledge you've gained. Preparing a portfolio provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate that knowledge.
Contact the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Office with questions.