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Office for Prior Learning Assessment
Posted March 16, 2012
In 2010, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) released a report on a multi-institutional study on prior learning assessment (PLA) and adult student outcomes. The study examined data from 62,475 adult students at 48 colleges and universities, following the students’ academic progress over the course of seven years (See Fueling the Race to Postsecondary Success at www.cael.org/pdf/PLA_Fueling-the-Race.pdf). The data from the 48 postsecondary institutions in this study showed that students with PLA credit had better academic outcomes, particularly in terms of degree completion and persistence, than other adult students. Many PLA students also shortened the time required to earn a degree, depending on the number of PLA credits earned.
Posted February 29, 2012
While the outcomes for PLA students of all ages are impressive, the data show that mature learners with credit earned through PLA truly excel: compared to younger students with PLA credit, mature learners with PLA credit earn a higher average number of credits through PLA, have higher graduation rates, and require a shorter time to earn a degree.
Posted February 29, 2012
PLA is not only offered on an individual employee basis. PLA also includes methods for evaluating military or corporate training programs for college credit. For example, if an employer develops an internal training course that includes content that is at the college level or comparable to college-level courses, the American Council on Education (ACE), as well as some postsecondary institutions, can evaluate the curriculum and make credit recommendations for any worker who successfully completes that course.(The fees charged for this evaluation service vary, and some postsecondary institutions provide it for free.) Not every interviewed employer offered training that would meet the criterion of having college-level content. However, the employers in IT, healthcare, and manufacturing said that some of their in-house training did have content that was comparable to what is found in college courses. For example, one manufacturer considered his company’s in-house blueprint training to be on the same level as what would be found in college courses. A healthcare employer was intrigued by the possibilities: “If we could take current training and offer it for college credit, attendance would be huge. It’s mind boggling to think that might be possible. It could be a whole change of culture.”
Posted May 19, 2011
"Recent research by Stamats, a higher-education marketing company, indicates that the availability of credit for life experience is the No. 1 thing adults look for when selecting a college." As one professor discovered, today "evaluations of what educators call prior learning—which can include on-the-job training, military experience, or even volunteering—are not only legitimate but necessary. To accept the legitimacy of experiential learning is to expand the definition not only of college credit, but of college itself."