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WHY DO A PRIOR LEARNING ASSESSMENT? 

  1. Validate your past experience.
  2. Develop/practice organizational skills.
  3. Develop/practice the ability to meaningfully reflect on past learning.
  4. Improve your writing skills.
  5. Receive detailed feedback.
  6. Learn to think critically about your own learning.
  7. Compile a comprehensive document that reflects your past accomplishments.
  8. Save money.

Content built from a model at Athabasca University.

DO I QUALIFY FOR PRIOR LEARNING ASSESSMENT

Take our Questionnaire for Prior Learning .

WHAT IS A PRIOR LEARNING PORTFOLIO? 

A prior learning portfolio is a collection of essays and documents that describe the college-level learning you’ve gained from experience.  In order for credit to be awarded, the portfolio must demonstrate that your prior learning is equivalent to the college-level learning expected in MSU Denver courses.  When you apply for credit for prior learning, you’re applying for credit for specific MSU Denver courses.  Credit is not granted for experience alone, but for the learning gained from that experience.

HOW DO I IDENTIFY COURSES FOR A PORTFOLIO? 

The first step is to review course descriptions in the MSU catalog and identify courses that align with the learning you’ve gained through experience.

Not all academic departments accept prior learning portfolios. (Art, Teacher Education, and Finance are three departments that do not accept portfolios.)  Department guidelines may change, so it is important to consult with the department that offers the course(s) you want to include prior to investing time and effort developing a portfolio.

The second step is to consider how the courses fit into your degree requirements.  While you may want recognition for your prior learning by having it on your college transcript, you may not want to invest time in developing a portfolio unless it counts towards your degree. 

HOW DO I FIND A FACULTY ASSESSOR? 

To identify who will be the faculty assessor(s) for your portfolio you may contact the chair of the department or a full-time faculty member who teaches the course, or you may ask the Prior Learning Specialist in the Center for Individualized Learning for assistance. 

SUBMITTING YOUR PORTFOLIO 

When you decide you want your portfolio assessed for credit for prior learning, submit it to the Center for Individualized Learning.   The Center will review it for quality and adherence to policies.  The Center may offer you feedback regarding how the portfolio might be strengthened before submitting it to the faculty for assessment. Steps for submitting are covered in detail in the course EDS 2680 - Portfolio Development Workshop

CONSIDERATIONS FOR MATERIAL TO SUBMIT WITH YOUR PORTFOLIO 

  1. Do I have diplomas, certificates from educational institutions or other organizations?
  2. Do I have letters of verification or evidence of my performance or contribution to training programs or specialized workshops?
  3. Do I have letters of verification or evidence of my performance in volunteer organizations?
  4. Do I have letters of verification from my teachers describing what I know, can do and level of performance as a student, a leader or an assistant?
  5. Do I have evidence of finished products, such as audio or video recordings, or computer programs that show my achievements in courses?
  6. Do my employers have job descriptions for my past positions?
  7. Do my employers have files describing the nature of my work and the time I spent doing this work?
  8. Are there any performance evaluations?
  9. Do I have any letters of recommendation or verification letters from my employer, supervisor or clients?
  10. Did I receive official commendations for my work?
  11. Do I have any media that mention my ability?
  12. Do I have documents that can help prove my competence?
  13. Do I have evidence that prove my ability to do something?
  14. Do the volunteer organizations have job descriptions for the positions I held?
  15. Do the organizations have files of my work and the time I spent doing the work?
  16. Was my performance evaluated?
  17. Do I have letters from the organization, supervisor, colleagues or clients congratulating me on my work?
  18. Do I have letters of verification of my work?

Content built from a model at Athabasca University

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE PORTFOLIO ASSESSMENT AGREEMENT IS SIGNED? 

A signed Portfolio Assessment Agreement indicates that the faculty member believes you have a reasonable chance of success.  It does not guarantee that your portfolio will be approved. The faculty member is agreeing to assess the portfolio when it is done within the time frame you indicate on the agreement itself.  The agreement is also a safeguard for you.  If the faculty member leaves the University, you have a document that shows the next faculty member that the University has agreed to accept and review your portfolio. 

The signed agreement is included in the portfolio when you submit it as an application for prior learning credit to the Center for Individualized Learning. 

HOW DOES PRIOR LEARNING CREDIT APPEAR ON MY TRANSCRIPT?

When the portfolio has been approved for credit, the original signed application is sent by the Center for Individualized Learning to the Office of the Registrar.  If you have at least 8 hours in residency credit at the University, the credit will be transcribed on your permanent record.  No letter grade is assigned.  The course and the credit associated with that course are listed on your transcript with a notation of PL (or “prior learning”) instead of a letter grade.


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