2010 Prior Learning Assessment Tools and Strategies
A discussion with Shirley Adams and Carol Lacey
around granting credit for lifelong and lifewide
Kicking off discussions with a short quiz
(there will be prizes)
Understanding prior learning tools and
◦ Charter Oak State College (www.charteroak.edu)
◦ Metropolitan State University (www.metrostate.edu)
Resources, links, stuff to check out
Energized discussion among participants!
• Started in 1973
• Degree Completion College
• Liberal Transfer and Limited Residency
• 95% student satisfaction rate
• 58% 6 year grad rate
• 88% Course completion rate
• Credit for learning, not experience
• Course Specific
• Content must be college-level
• Appropriate balance of theory and
• Recommendations by academic subject
• Appropriate to the academic context
• Students take a 3 credit course
• Students can earn an additional 3
• Student continues to submit their
• Fee per credit evaluated ($85/$110)
Adult Students & PLA
•Greater retention rates
•Higher graduation rates
•70% of students with PLA graduated
•39% of students without PLA graduated
CAEL 2009 Study
The concept of prior learning is not new, but current
factors such as economic and workplace challenges,
and decline of traditional post-high school college
enrollment accelerated by President Obama's goals to
increase significantly the number of Americans with
post-secondary credentials provide catalysts for
expansion and strengthening of quality PLA
Pamela Tate, CAEL's president and CEO,
acknowledging that more than half of all colleges
award some credit for prior learning, but few offer
this to significant numbers or students . Inside
Higher Ed (3/1/10)
CAEL compared PLA students with non-PLA students in terms of earned
degrees, persistence, and time to degree.
PLA students in the study had much higher degree-earning rates than
non-PLA students over a seven-year time period, regardless of
institutional size, level or control, age, gender or race/ethnicity. This
was also true when comparing students with similar academic abilities.
Re persistence among students who did not earn degrees within the
seven year: PLA students accumulated more credits than non-PLA
students. In addition, non-degree-earning PLA students re-enrolled
more consistently than non-PLA students without degrees.
PLA students earning bachelor's degrees save an average of between 2.5
and 10.1 months of time in earning their degree, depending upon the
number of PLA credits earned, compared to non-PLA students earning
MNSCU's (Minnesota State Colleges and Universities) Board of
Trustees procedure affirms PLA assessment through varied
means, specifying some statewide standards while providing for
individual institutional determination on other areas.
PLA has been a hallmark of Metropolitan State University, one of
the universities in the MNSCU system, since it began in the early
1970s. Its work and leadership is recognized within the state
system, but also nationally by CAEL (Council on Adult and
Experiential Learning), the Peace Corps and other organizations.
New impetus on providing opportunities or strengthening
existing efforts for PLA as part of adult degree completion
initiatives (including a new Lumina-funded initiative) has
accelerated Metropolitan State's AND MNSCU’S PLA commitment,
development and leadership in this area.
eFolio™s new Minnesota Transfer Curriculum
questionnaires map learning outcomes for the goal
areas required at MNSCU 2 and 4 year institutions,
providing a structured framework for students to
document and reflect on how their experiential
learning meets those outcomes.
This framework also provides faculty with a process
they can integrate with rubrics they have established
for quality evaluation of learning outcomes.
This also addresses workload concerns because
faculty do not have to individualize competence and
assessment framework for each student.
While these outcomes reflect the Minnesota Transfer
Curriculum, they can be adapted to general education
requirements at other higher education institutions.
Getting Credit for What You Know (1-credit
class: identify and document credit-potential
learning and best avenue for assessment)
Assessment workshops (Early Childhood and
Theory seminars (add theory to experience)
Individualized PLA (portfolio or other)
So tell us your PLA stories! Both the
successes and challenges….