Prior Learning Assessment Handbook

December, 2015
Table of Contents
Policies ………………………………………………………………………………………….2
Process for Earning Prior Learning Credit through a Portfolio….………………………………3
Writing Guidelines……………………………………………………………………………….5
Kolb’s Model of Experiential Learning …………………………………………………………6
Forms ……………………………………………………………………………………………7

Portfolio Application ……………………………………………………………………7
Topics for Portfolio Development ………………………………………………………8
Evaluation of Portfolio ………………………………………………………………….9
Prior Learning Assessment


This guide describes the policies and procedures followed in the evaluation of college-level learning that has taken place outside of the traditional classroom and for which college credit has not previously been granted. These policies and procedures have been developed in accordance with the standards established by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) and are listed below. These ten standards are used for quality assurance in assessing learning for credit, five of which are directly related to the student and five are directly related to the administration of the awarding of credit:

1. Credit or its equivalent should be awarded only for learning.

2. Assessment should be based on standards and criteria for the level of acceptable learning that are both agreed upon and made public.

3. Assessment should be treated as an integral part of learning, not separate from it, and should be based on an understanding of learning processes.

4. The determination of credit awards and competence levels must be made by appropriate subject matter and academic or credentialing experts.

5. Credit or other credentialing should be appropriate to the context in which it is awarded and accepted.

6. If awards are for credit, transcript entries should clearly describe what learning is being recognized and should be monitored to avoid giving credit twice for the same learning.

7. Policies, procedures, and criteria applied to assessment, including provision for appeal, should be fully disclosed and prominently available to all parties involved in the assessment process.

8. Fees charged for assessment should be based on the services performed in the process and not determined by the amount of credit awarded.

9. All personnel involved in the assessment of learning should pursue and receive adequate training and continuing professional development for the functions they perform.

10. Assessment programs should be regularly monitored, reviewed, evaluated, and revised as needed to reflect changes in the needs being served, the purposes being met, and the state of the assessment arts. (Morry Fiddler, Catherine Marienau, & Urban Whitaker, Assessing Learning, Standards, Principles, and Procedures, Chicago, Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 2006).

The above CAEL policies and procedures are followed in this document, as indicated on the following page.

Process for Earning Prior Learning Credit through a Portfolio
A. Portfolio requests are made directly to the appropriate School Dean. The Dean forwards the portfolio to the relevant Department Head who identifies a full-time faculty subject matter expert to review applications and supporting documentation for receiving credit through the portfolio process for prior learning experiences outside of a college classroom. The assigned faculty member is responsible for reviewing an application and supporting documentation to ensure application and documents are appropriately presented.
B. Credit through the portfolio process may be earned for learning from numerous sources, including: workshops, seminars, self-study, noncredit classes, training programs, and work experiences. Assessment of learning must be college-level learning that is:

1. Measurable

2. At a level of achievement defined as college-equivalent or consistent with the learning of other adult learners engaged in college studies

3. Applicable outside the specific job or context in which it was learned

4. A knowledge-base which:

· Is reasonably current

· Implies a conceptual or theoretical as well as a practical understanding

· Shows some relationship to the adult learners’ degree goals and/or lifelong learning goals

· Does not duplicate learning for which credit has already been awarded.
C. Portfolio Applications for Prior Learning Credit are required for all undergraduate and graduate courses.
D. The Academic Bulletin lists other alternative methods of completing course requirements.
E. The applicant will need to follow the process below when submitting an application for possible obtaining of credit through the writing of a portfolio:
a. Review the Academic Bulletin to select a course that matches the learning experience for which the student is seeking credit through the Portfolio Process.

b. Work with their advisor to complete the Portfolio Application form.
c. Ensure that adequate supporting documentation is included with the completed application.

d. Complete a separate application for each course the student is seeking credit for through the portfolio process. Separate supporting documents is required with each application.
F. The student’s advisor will submit the application and supporting documentation to the appropriate School Dean. (A separate application and supporting documentation must be completed for each course, if more than one course is being submitted for approval.)
G. The Dean will forward the portfolio application to the relevant Department Head who will identify a faculty member to serve as Faculty Assessor (Subject Matter Expert) to guide the student through the process and provide evaluation of the portfolio.
H. The Faculty Assessor tasks include the review the application and supporting documentation, and to contact the applicant to determine the applicant’s ability to effectively write a portfolio for course credit for which the student applied. The Faculty Assessor and student will sign the portfolio application. The recommendation is then sent back to the Department Head and forwarded to the Dean for a final decision.
I. The signed portfolio application indicating approval or denial is returned to the student’s advisor.
J. Upon approval, the faculty assessor will complete a Topics for Portfolio Development form to guide the student in writing the content that addresses the required topics for the applied course. Both the faculty assessor and the student will sign the Topics for Portfolio Development form. This form provides clarification of the expectations for content of the portfolio.
K. The student will have 90 days to develop the portfolio and submit it to the assessor. A portfolio is graded on a pass or fail basis. The student is charged for the portfolio whether the grade achieved is either a pass or fail. If a student fails to complete a portfolio in the 90 day timeline, a failing grade will be assigned.

L. Upon the faculty assessor’s evaluation of the student’s completed portfolio, the faculty assessor completes the Evaluation of Portfolio form, and submits the form and the student’s completed portfolio to the Dean.
M. The School Dean will file a copy of the Evaluation of Portfolio form and the completed portfolio paper.
N. The Dean will send the Evaluation of Portfolio form to the Registrar.
O. The Registrar will ensure that the credit earned is indicated on the student’s transcript (Pass/Fail grade only).

P. The Dean will notify the student’s advisor of credit awarded.

Q. The student is invoiced for the $300 fee. (The student must pay the fee whether the credit is awarded or not.)
Writing Guidelines
The faculty assessor is responsible for informing the student of the guidelines for writing the portfolio using the Topics for Portfolio Development form listed on p. 8:
A portfolio must provide an overview of the student’s work and educational history as well as a description of their personal and professional development. A completed portfolio should contain the following elements:

1. Portfolio cover sheet

2. Table of contents

3. Resume

4. Documentation supporting the learning experience

5. Statement of how the prior learning demonstrated in the portfolio relates to the student’s degree plan

6. Statement of educational goals

7. Technical and professional training worksheets (if applicable); one
worksheet should be filled out for each worksheet or seminar attended
8. The Portfolio Paper will demonstrate learning outcomes through

addressing the topics provided by the faculty assessor
9. The student will follow Kolb’s Model to focus the portfolio as is listed below:
a. The paper will address each topic, as provided by the assessor. The paper will provide a conceptual or theoretical as well as a practical understanding of the topic. The paper will show some relationship to the learner’s degree goals and/or lifelong learning goals.

b. Portfolio credit is grounded in the model of adult learning developed by David A. Kolb and is assessed through documentation of technical and professional noncredit instruction and through assessment of a learning outcomes paper based on a topic outline as provided by a faculty assessor.
c. The portfolio will not only detail the experience but will also describe the learning, conceptualization and application. This includes describing the thought processes that led to valuable insights or principles in a particular content area and describing concepts learned. Questions provided in this handbook, which are based on Kolb’s Model of Experiential Learning, will specifically guide the student through these thought processes during the creation of this paper.

Concrete Experience

1. What did I do? Where? When? For how long? Why?

2. How many other people were involved? Were my roles, responsibilities and contributions clear compared to the group or Coordinator?

3. What was the extent of my involvement?

4. What techniques, methods or procedures did I use? Why?

5. What were my goals and objectives? How did they influence my approach?

6. What resources did I use?

Observations and Reflections

1. What were my thought processes? What were the considerations, decisions, and rationale?

2. What did I notice? Trends? Patterns? Differences? Similarities? Relationships?

3. What was important, significant, different, and unique?

4. What worked and what did not work?

5. What can I say in retrospect?

Formation of Abstract Concepts and Generalizations

1. What hypotheses, rules, laws, theories and principles have I formed to explain; why something happens, why it does or does not work, why two things are the same or different, why this trend, pattern, or relationship exists?

2. How might my ideas and insights be valuable for others in a similar situation?

3. Would this explanation or theory be true or relevant for other persons or situations? How might this principle be applied?

4. Can I look at my learning experience from a broader perspective and make generalizations from it?

Testing or Applying Concepts in New Situations

1. Based on this knowledge, what have I done, or what would I do?

2. Is my knowledge useful in other situations? How?

3. Can I identify application of this knowledge by others?

4. Have I tested my ideas or concepts that I have learned? If not, can I guess what would happen? Why?

5. How does my knowledge affect or apply to other situations? Is it relevant or significant?

Portfolio Application

Please Print:

COURSE NUMBER & TITLE________________________________________________

(Tiffin University course for which applicant is seeking credit)
(One application per course requested)

Student Information:


City____________________________ State __________________​​​ Zip_________________

Daytime phone____________________________ Evening phone_______________________

Please read the following and sign below:

I understand that it is my responsibility to ensure that the credit I earn through the portfolio assessment process are applicable to my degree program. I also acknowledge that the information I submit for assessment in the portfolio is true and correct. I understand that willful failure to give accurate information is considered adequate grounds for dismissal from the University and revocation of credit granted.

I agree to pay a $300 tuition fee for each course requirement to be fulfilled through portfolio credit.

I agree to complete the portfolio in a timely manner, a period not to exceed 90 days from the date of approval for proceeding with the development of the portfolio.


Student Signature


Recommendation of Faculty Assessor:

Request to do Portfolio:


Faculty Assessor Name (Print)


Faculty Assessor Signature


Topics for Portfolio Development

Please Print:

Student’s Name: _______________________________________________________________


Course Name and Number: _______________________________________________________

Key topics are to be aligned with the MCCGs for the course listed above.
1) _______________________________________________________________________

2) _______________________________________________________________________

3) _______________________________________________________________________

4) _______________________________________________________________________

5) _______________________________________________________________________

6) _______________________________________________________________________

7) _______________________________________________________________________

8) _______________________________________________________________________

9) _______________________________________________________________________

10) _______________________________________________________________________



Faculty Assessor Signature

Student Signature


Evaluation of Portfolio

COURSE NUMBER & TITLE____________________________________________________

Student’s Name________________________________________________________________


City____________________________ State __________________ Zip__________________


1) Has the student addressed each subject in the topical outlines as provided by the faculty assessor?

_____Yes _____No (If no, please elaborate.)


2) Has the student developed the portfolio based on Kolb’s guideline?

_____Yes _____No

3) Is the portfolio logically organized and does it include all required components?

_____Yes _____No


1) Does the narrative explain how learning was acquired?

2) Does it indicate a general understanding of the field?
3) Does it contain a mixture of theory and practice

_____No appropriate to the subject/topical guidelines?

4) Does the student demonstrate college level writing skills?

5) If no to any of the above, please elaborate:




1) Elaborate on the nature and quality of the verification of learning.



Portfolio Evaluation – Page 2

If you are not recommending a credit award, please check all of the following that apply:

_____Documentation is inadequate

_____Narrative is too brief

_____Evidence does not support knowledge of topics in course description

_____It is not clear how the knowledge was acquired

_____Knowledge demonstrated is not at the college level

_____Student’s knowledge lacks the breadth of the course described

_____Selected course description is not appropriate for evidence presented

_____Key topics did not align with the course’s MCCGs
Suggestion for alternate course description: Course # and Name__________________________

If more work is required, what information should be provided?

_____Additional documentation, i.e._________________________________________

_____Rewrite narrative to include: ___________________________________________

_____An oral interview to discuss portfolio is required on: _______________________

_____Recommend reading assignment: _______________________________

Faculty Assessor’s Assessment of Portfolio:

_______Award Credit

________Follow-up is required
________Credit Denied


Faculty Assessor Name (Print)


Faculty Assessor Signature


Attach the portfolio paper to this document and submit to the Dean.

Office Use Only:

Submitted to the Registrar’s Office on ____________By ______________________________

Date School Dean’s Signature


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