Overview of Portfolio Assessment

The Portfolio Assessment Course (PA 100) is one way to earn undergraduate credit for learning acquired outside of the traditional classroom from on the job, volunteer work or military training for example. The course will assist you in documenting your learning from prior experiences and to build an online portfolio. The goal is to earn credit for what you already know which can save you time and money as you pursue your undergraduate degree.

In this nine-module course, students will be guided through the portfolio process and will be provided assistance on each part of their portfolio. At the end of this course, students will submit their portfolios for a fee-based evaluation by trained and qualified faculty to determine whether their documented learning is equivalent to college-level learning and worth undergraduate credit.


Prior learning credits represent a substantial cost savings, as the credits you use are at a rate well below current tuition costs for course work, and you pay for only the number of credits you actually use toward your degree. Prior learning credits can also reduce the time involved in earning your degree since they represent learning already acquired. Credit received through prior learning may be applied toward degree requirements at the discretion of your academic advisor. Thus, credits can be quite widely applicable to your degree areas.


All undergraduate students may be eligible to submit a prior learning portfolio. A portfolio will be assessed only after transfer credits, military training and profiency or other advanced standing credits are evaluated; a Transfer Credit Evaluation form (i.e. Curriculum form) must be done prior to beginning the portfolio. However, prior learning does not work for everyone, and there is no easy answer as to whether or not you should spend the time, energy, and money involved in assembling a portfolio. Individuals have had different experiences, for differing lengths of time, and will explain these experiences in different ways, all of which can affect the amount of award received.

The following questionnaire may help you decide whether or not the portfolio approach will benefit you in pursuit of your degree. If you have sufficient time to prepare a portfolio and can answer "yes" to all or most of the questions, you probably should submit a portfolio. If you answer "no" to a majority of the questions, then a portfolio may not be worth your time and effort.

Should I do a Prior Learning Portfolio?
If you can answer "yes" to most of the questions below, you probably should submit a portfolio. If, you answer "no" for many of the questions, you probably should re-examine whether a portfolio will be worth your time and effort. Also, be sure to talk with your instructor or advisor about the advantages and issues in developing a portfolio.

1. Can you write about your learning experiences in a way that demonstrates the concepts, skills and competencies you have acquired?
Credit is given for the learning you acquired through your prior learning experiences. The emphasis is on the concepts, skills and knowledge that reflect college level credit (undergraduate/or graduate).
2. Can work, training, and life experiences be verified by others?
All experiences must be verified by others. Documentation will need to support when experiences began and ended, the nature of the responsibilities involved, and the learning described. Usually, the more distant the experience, the more difficult it is to document
3. Are individual work experiences at least 10 months long or longer?
In general, work experiences of less than 10 month's duration will not receive credit unless the evaluators can logically combine them with other work and/or training experiences.
4. Can you document the number of hours devoted to each training experience, the method of evaluation, the contents, instructor's qualifications and proof of completion?
While longer training sessions have greater credit potential than short sessions, evaluators may be able to combine short trainings that have a common theme. Submit short training sessions, as separate items, if they can be verified.
5. Have you pursued your life experiences for several years?
Duration is a factor in awarding credit for any experience, but especially so for life experiences. For example, one-time events of short duration do not justify college credit, although evaluators may be able to combine several short term experiences if they have a common theme and extend over time. Note: Typically, life experience garners only undergraduate credit.
6. Is an experience college-level (for undergraduates)?
In general, experiences that warrant college level credit reflect relatively complex activities and substantial analytic skills and judgments.
7. Is the learning claimed different from that acquired in the classes on your college transcript?
Credit will be awarded for new learning. Prior Learning credits may not duplicate learning already acquired from college classes.

CAEL Standards for Quality Assurance in Prior Learning Assessment
'Äî College credit only awarded for college-level learning and not experience.
'Äî Assessment based on standards and criteria for the level of acceptance of learning.
'Äî Assessment should be an integral part of learning and based on an understanding of learning processes.
'Äî Determination of credit awards and competence levels must be made by academic and/or appropriate subject matter experts.
'Äî Academic credit or other credentialing should be appropriate to the context in which it is awarded and accepted.

In order to earn credits for prior learning through Portfolio assessment (PA 100), students must be able to:

  • state and explain learning competencies for respective courses;
  • trace and document meaning in past performance;
  • describe and analyze the content in which learning and competencies were developed;
  • interpret, analyze and transfer knowledge, learning competencies, outcomes, and personal attributes into leadership roles;
  • synthesize data and experiential situations for use in problem-solving and decision making areas;
  • relate professional knowledge and/or competencies embedded in their experience to concepts, theories, and research pertaining to the relevant discipline of their academic portfolios;
  • document each competency and learning outcome; demonstrate college-level competency in writing

Determining College-Level Learning

Types of Submissions:
The content of courses submitted must be consistent with concepts taught at a post-secondary level and recognized in the curriculum offerings of accredited colleges and universities. College-level learning is defined as learning that includes theory, concepts, and insights of the discipline as well as practical applications. Three types of formal learning experiences are commonly included in and are most appropriate for portfolio submissions:

1. Non-transferable, College Coursework: technical school courses, clock-hour based classes, correspondence schools, self-study courses, and some vocational courses that contain college-level theory. Transcripts submitted at the time of application will be evaluated, and any assessed coursework of this nature will be noted on the student's advising worksheet.
2. Professional Licenses and Certifications: national or state testing programs, licensure with professional organizations, and other formal designations that require the demonstration of college-level learning. Insurance, real estate, certified quality auditor, and human resource professional licenses/certifications are some examples.
3. Professional Courses: corporate-sponsored training programs, corporate universities, professional seminars, workshops, and continuing professional courses.
4. Work Experiences: experiences showing fewer than 10 months in a single position would likely not result in any credits, while 16 to 25 months can result in credits, assuming that the self-assessment and documents connect with learning outcomes. On the other hand, eight years or longer in one position will have a maximum potential of credits. For example, military personnel may have a six month assignment and then be reassigned to another position. In this case it is appropriate to submit the short Work Experience as it may be possible for evaluators to combine it with another experience to generate credit.
5. Life Experiences: experiences must have occurred over a span of time (2 years/24 months) and show substantial involvement to be eligible for any credit. Life experiences generate the least amount of credit, are not required for undergraduate portfolios, and generally are not included in graduate portfolios.

Costs associated with this course:

  • Tuition will be charged for 3 credits. 3 credits open elective and 3 credits of portfolio assessed work = total of 6 credits $150 for each additional 3 credits (1 course) earned with submitting portfolio.