Prior Learning Assessment
Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)
Prescott College’s commitment to student-centered, experiential learning includes a respect for the adult student’s prior learning, whether that learning occurred in non-college settings, recognized Massive Open Online Courses, or in extended, demanding professional experiences. After the first semester, Limited-Residency and On-Campus undergraduate students may apply to begin a process in which they document and request assessment of their prior learning in order to earn Prescott College credits. This process is known as Prior Learning Assessment (PLA).
Portfolio Types in PLA
Once accepted into the PLA process, students enroll in the Prior Learning Assessment course in which they learn how to document their prior learning in one of three types of electronic portfolios:
Conversion Portfolio (up to 25 lower division credits)
The student documents successful prior learning that occurred in a non-accredited setting such as in military training or instructor-led seminars or workshops. The conversion portfolio includes a course description, syllabus, certificate of completion, evidence of contact hours, and a brief learning summary, among other items. The PLA course instructor may award one lower division semester credit for every 15 hours of properly documented prior learning.
Practicum Portfolio (8 upper division credits)
Undergraduate students who are not seeking Teacher Certification may fulfill the Senior Project requirement via the PLA Practicum Portfolio. In this type of PLA portfolio, the student documents prior learning in a specific field central to her or his competence area. Typically, the student bases the practicum portfolio on a minimum of two years of work experience. Each practicum portfolio is evaluated by a professional or specialist in the student’s competence area.
Life Experience Portfolio (up to 36 credits)
Students write one or more 5000-6000 word portfolio chapters to document and distill prior learning they have acquired through extensive professional experience and practice. Each chapter must demonstrate theoretical as well as practical command of the subject matter. Life Experience portfolio chapters are evaluated by specialists in the content area for up to four credits per chapter.
No student may earn more than 60 credits through any combination of PLA portfolios.
Students interested in attempting PLA credits should carefully review the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Handbook and consult with their faculty advisor before applying.