Portland State University. Credit for Prior Learning

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1 Portland State University Credit for Prior Learning [Credit for prior learning was not approved by the Faculty Senate until February 7, 2005] Adult learners often bring a wealth of knowledge with them when they decide to get a college education. The Portland State Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) program helps students translate the knowledge they bring into college credit. Portland State University adult learners have the opportunity to seek credit based on significant demonstrated learning acquired as a result of experience in employment, volunteer activities, workshop/seminar participation, publications, community service, travel, military service, or other life experiences. Credit is not awarded for the experience itself, but for the verifiable learning outcomes, which grew out of the experience. Credit will be granted through a rigorous portfolio and evaluation process. Adults who have been out of school for a period of time and who are now returning to the University are the most likely applicants to CPL. Adult learners acquire a particular wisdom and knowledge through life experience. It is incumbent upon institutions of higher education to find ways to incorporate that wisdom and knowledge into the intellectual life of the university. The recognition and valuation of this wisdom and knowledge is not only an individual good, but an institutional good that enriches the life of the educational community. Individuals of all ages may exhibit outstanding accomplishments that warrant recognition by the University. In some situations the awarding of credit is one way in which these superior accomplishments may be acknowledged by the institution. Rationale for the Program American institutions of higher education have been assessing experiential college level learning for over 30 years. The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) was founded in 1974 with the goal of link(ing) the real world and the learning that adults had achieved in it to higher education and the benefits it could bring. In the 1970 s, approximately 40 institutions of higher education had in place comprehensive programs to assess prior learning. Although many still hold the view that credit for prior learning is education on the cheap and low in quality; currently, there are over 1,000 institutions that participate in acknowledging the connection between the learning taking place through life experiences and college-level learning. With the growth of providing credit for prior learning, national and regional standards have been developed and frequently reviewed by CAEL and regional accrediting associations to ensure that quality and integrity are embodied in the processes for determining whether to award credit for prior learning.

2 Over the past several years, Portland State University has clarified and delineated student outcomes at the degree, major, minor, and general studies level. As PSU determines these outcomes, it is appropriate to consider alternative paths for students to verify they have met and/or exceeded those competencies. Currently, Portland State accepts credit for passing a CLEP exam, waives specific courses by exam, and provides credit for advanced placement and international baccalaureate work at the high school level. Since PSU already utilizes portfolios in a number of venues (e.g., University Studies, culminating experience in several programs), a portfolio documenting obtainment of learning outcomes is the next logical step in the assessment of student learning Learning takes place throughout life and college level learning is not confined to higher education classroom settings. Portland State University s curriculum and much of its research focuses on the connection between real life and formal education. Since the average age of Portland State University s undergraduate students is approximately 27, many have been involved in a variety of life experiences which can offer learning equivalent in substance and complexity to that offered in our classrooms. Through reliable assessment of learning outcomes, Portland State University can set a high standard for formally and systematically recognize the linkage between adult life and formal education. Awarding credit for prior learning may encourage adults to complete their education, because it acknowledges the validity of the learning adults have participated in that is relevant to a college degree. This is one more way that Portland State University can include the valued experience, wisdom and knowledge of these individuals who have historically not had access to college. This option does not replace any of the other paths currently in use. Method for Which Credit Is Awarded Portland State currently offers credit through prior learning in several ways: a) Students receive credit for passing a CLEP exam, b) students may take exams to waive specifically identified classes, and c) PSU provides credit for advanced placement work and the international baccalaureate at the high school. PSU may also be asked to award credit for students exceeding Proficiency-based Admission Standards System (PASS). This process is currently being defined. Another very common form of providing Credit for Prior Learning is the use of a portfolio process. Portfolios will be reviewed at the department level. Credit will be awarded through individual assessment of a student s documentation of learning outcomes. Students will develop a portfolio, which includes a narrative statement that documents learning outcomes gained from experience in employment volunteer activities, workshop/seminar participation, publications, community service, travel, military service, or other life experiences. Any student interested in applying for credit for Prior Learning must meet with the Credit for Prior Learning Coordinator to determine if their significant life experiences appear to

3 qualify them for applying for credit for prior learning for a specific course at Portland State University. If it appears appropriate to apply for credit for prior learning, the student must participate in a one-credit portfolio development course. As part of the course, students are guided in examining their experiential learning to extract the learning outcomes. Determining learning levels, learning components, theory and practice relationships, and appropriate narration, documentation, and presentation are areas covered in this class. Students do not prepare their portfolios as part of this class, but must prepare one learning component for grading in order to insure that he or she grasps the concept. Later, students independently prepare their portfolios, but may consult with their coordinator, subject area faculty, or the course instructor during the preparation in much the same way as faculty advise for other student projects. (from James Mason website) Eligibility Requirements In order to participate in Credit for Prior Learning, and to avoid any perception that PSU is simply trying to increase credit production, students must demonstrate both their commitment to PSU and their ability to perform at the college level by: Being a matriculated undergraduate student at Portland State University Being enrolled for not less than 4 credits of academic work when their credits are to be entered on their transcript Having successfully completed the equivalent of one term (12 credits) with a C grade point average. Number of Credits that May Be Awarded for Credit for Prior Learning Students may earn 24 to 45 credits at Portland State University through prior learning portfolio assessment to be used toward their undergraduate degree. Individual schools and colleges may establish lower maxima. Schools and colleges will validate departmental recommendations pertaining to the number of credits that can be used toward a major, minor, and electives and which courses can be the subject of portfolio assessment. Pass/No Pass will be attached to the credit received for prior learning. (PSU accepts up to 45 credits of Pass) Appeal Process 1. The academic department s decision as to whether or not to entertain a student s petition for credit for prior learning, as well as the number of credits to be petitioned is final. In the case of a disagreement over process or possible discrimination against a student, the appeal process will follow University guidelines for grievances and will be referred to the Associate Vice Provost and Dean for Enrollment and Student Services. Students Role/Responsibilities

4 1. Confer with the Credit for Prior Learning coordinator to determine if their significant life experiences appear to qualify them for credit for prior learning. 2. Upon the recommendation of the coordinator, enroll in the course, Assessment of Prior Learning. (May want to put the course online.) 3. Prepare a portfolio according to the guidelines provided in the Assessment of Prior Learning handbook. Every submission will include a narrative statement of the learning outcomes and documentation of the experience. (This is a rigorous process and often takes 3-6 months to prepare portfolios for faculty review.) 4. Whenever possible, credit awarded will be equivalent to an existing Portland State University course. Indicate the Portland State University course(s) number and number of credits requested upon submission of the portfolio. If there is no specific course, but the prior learning is within a Portland State University academic area, the by arrangement or cooperative education course number in that area may be used with the title giving the focus of the learning. 5. Submit the portfolio for assessment. Once the portfolio is assessed and the number of credits determined, Portland State University will bill students $40 for each credit awarded. Faculty/Departmental Roles/Responsibilities 1. Departments, in conjunction with SES, will identify a faculty member(s) who will be responsible for assessing portfolios and determining the number of credits to award for each portfolio submission. 2. The identified assessors will participate in a training session for faculty assessors that will be coordinated by SES, through De Paul s online training, or through CAEL. During this training, assessors will develop rubrics for determining the awarding of credit and the number of credits. [Paid to do this?] 3. Each school/college/department/program will develop guidelines, which outline the courses students may provide documentation of meeting outcomes through a portfolio. 4. The assessors will evaluate the student s portfolio and determine if the verified learning which occurred as a result of the identified life experiences is equal to university-level learning, and sufficient to meet expectations in a particular course currently offered by Portland State University. 5. The faculty member(s) will be paid $50 for reviewing each portfolio. 6. Recommend the number of credits to be awarded for any portfolio presentation and indicate the specific course(s) for which the credit is to be awarded. 7. The departmental assessor and the department chair will sign off. In no case will the number of credits granted be greater than that of the Portland State University course. 8. The faculty assessor will submit the appropriate paperwork to SES for registration, billing, and transcripting. SES Role/Responsibilities

5 1. SES will hire a coordinator for the Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) Program (will begin at.2 FTE and could increase), who will work within the Independent Study unit. The person hired will either have experience in credit for prior learning or will be trained by CAEL. 2. The coordinator will speak with department heads and academic advisors across campus to provide information about the program, share PSU s policy, determine departmental interest, and identify potential departmental assessors. The CPL coordinator, in conjunction with department chairs and academic advisors, will develop a CPL handbook and web support page, which includes all pertinent information, guidelines, and policies. 3. Once departmental assessors are identified, this person will either provide or coordinate training for assessors on portfolio evaluation. Assessors may be current faculty, retired faculty, and/or individuals teaching independent study courses. Training may be conducted in conjunction with PSU s CAE. All departmental assessors will be approved by the appropriate department chair. 4. The CPL coordinator will meet with students who are interested in credit for prior learning to explain the process and will offer at least one Assessment of Prior Learning course each term with follow through for students who need assistance. 5. The CPL coordinator will review every submitted student transcript and portfolio to document that the student meets all requirements (e.g., matriculated student, 2.0 GPA), to ensure that an academic petition has been completed for each credit request, and then will distribute the portfolio to the appropriate faculty member. 6. When the faculty assessor has completed the review, he or she will submit the appropriate signed paper work to the CPL coordinator. The CPL coordinator ensures that the credits granted do not exceed those of the equivalent PSU course and informs the student in writing of the decision(s) made by the faculty assessor. SES will register the student for the number of credits that were awarded by the faculty assessor and the department chair. SES will then pay the faculty assessor $50 per portfolio. 7. SES will bill the student for the appropriate number of credits. Once payment has been received, SES will transcribe the grade of Pass for Credit for Prior Learning for the student. 8. Copies of the student s petition and a 250-word abstract of the Portfolio are placed in the student s file in the CPL. (We may want to move to doing this all electronically.) 9. The CPL coordinator prepares an annual report detailing the previous academic year s CPL requests and outcomes. The report is sent to the appropriate department chair, dean, and the Provost. Cost Students will be billed for $160 once the faculty assessor determines if the documentation addresses course content and the number of credits awarded. [I'm not sure I undersand this - relationship to the $40/ credit? Is this a program fee?] Benefits of Credit for Prior Learning

6 CPL formally acknowledges the linkage between adult student s learning through life experiences and university education CPL provides greater access to adult students This process meets the new OUS policy requirements PSU already has utilized portfolios in a variety of venues and has expertise in that arena Portland State University will be competitive with sister institutions (e.g., EOU, SOU, George Fox, Marylhurst) that have provided credit for prior learning for some time. Some Other Universities That Offer Credit for Prior Learning Boise State University Central Michigan University Cleveland State University (Urban 13) CUNY System DePaul University Eastern Oregon University George Fox University Georgia State University (Urban 13) Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis (Urban 13) James Madison University Lewis-Clark State College Linfield College Marylhurst University Southern Oregon University Syracuse University Temple University (Urban 13) University of Alabama University of Alabama at Birmingham (Urban 13) University of Cincinnati (Urban 13) University of Illinois at Chicago (Urban 13) University of Las Vegas University of Maryland University College University of Memphis (Urban 13) University of Toledo (Urban 13) University of Washington and Washington State University (External Doctor of Pharmacy) University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh University of Wisconsin-Parkside Approved, Portland State University Faculty Senate, February 7, 2005

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