Employers and educators around the world are placing a renewed emphasis on tangible experience. Demonstrated success in the workplace, community, and home is now recognized as a valuable component to a complete education. Almeda University champions practical achievement and personal learning, using the widely adopted Prior Learning Assessment as a reliable tool for evaluating an individual's lifelong learning.
Prior Learning Assessment Defined
Prior Learning Assessment is an internationally adopted method of assessing an individual's professional experience and personal learning to determine its educational
Prior Learning Assessment has gained substantial use in colleges and universities of all types, including traditional colleges and universities as well as modern online learning programs. While conventional institutions have adopted Prior Learning Assessment out of necessity due to society's demand that valuable learning is not restricted to the classroom, their objective is to use this tool as minimally as possible. These institutes generate millions of dollars in revenue by requiring in-class attendance for theoretical learning, and consequently only a small minority of students who follow this model receive a degree in 4 years.
At Almeda University, prior learning from valuable experience is emphasized rather than minimized. Here, the Prior Learning Assessment is employed to the full extent of its intended design.
How Prior Learning Assessment Works
Anyone can apply for an evaluation via the Prior Learning Assessment. Individuals who have gained valuable work experience and students with previous college credits are strong candidates to have this background converted into credits to be immediately applied toward an Almeda University degree.
Through this method, lifelong learning, both formal and informal, is assessed against an established set of standards to determine the academic value of the learning experiences. Almeda employs a diverse faculty of professors that span wide-ranging disciplines and geography. In addition to providing instruction and guidance through online learning programs, these professors use their expertise to serve as reviewers who apply the Prior Learning Assessment. Credit is awarded based on the demonstrated learning derived from the experience, not simply from the experience itself.
As a member organization of CAEL, NAOAA, and the USDLA, Almeda promotes accurate mastery of the Prior Learning Assessment. We provide ongoing support to our Professors in understanding the application of PLA, consistently monitoring, reviewing, and evaluating their performance to insure reliability and validity of the method. Additionally, these reviewers regularly attend certification workshops across the country to enhance their aptitude with this valuable process.
While the PLA uses pre-existing criteria for its evaluation, it is not a one-dimensional instrument. Specific aspects of the Prior Learning Assessment are addressed below.
Almeda's PLA Portfolio Method
The most commonly applied form of Prior Learning Assessment is the Portfolio Method, based on the richness of data it provides. The Portfolio Method requires students to document their life experiences, demonstrating with detail the knowledge they have achieved and how this equates to learning gained through formal college education. The student does not simply list work experience as seen on a resume, but instead focuses on the specific knowledge acquired from practical experiences, creating a learning portfolio illustrating extensive knowledge, skills, problem solving abilities, and understanding of college level principles.
Upon submission of the portfolio, an assigned Professor who is an expert in the student's intended area of study reviews the application using the Prior Learning Assessment guidelines. The Professor then makes a determination of the relative worth of this demonstrated learning as it might apply to the specific courses within the student's degree program. Consistent with PLA standards, credit is awarded only for learning that has a balance, appropriate to the subject, between theory and practical application.
Other PLA Tools
Learning is not achieved through one method. Similarly, there is no one method to evaluate prior learning. In addition to the Portfolio Method, the following appraisals all meet PLA specified guidelines:
Thesis: A written document featuring a highly developed theme supported with intellectual arguments and evidence. Topics can include any subject relevant to study within an academic discipline, and should be characterized by strong writing, original thinking, and references.
Articulation Agreements: “Articulation” refers to the process by which college level courses from one institution are recognized and accepted as credit toward a degree by another institution. Almeda University has articulation agreements with many colleges and universities throughout the world, avoiding the redundancy and expense of repeating the same class. In this way, we apply your prior classroom learning to help you obtain your degree in the most efficient way possible.
Credit for Licenses or Certifications: Credentials such as certificates or licenses in specific areas show a high level of expertise. These qualifications are evaluated by the PLA method to account for the knowledge obtained and how this knowledge corresponds with your desired topic of study.
Credit for Completion of Other Evaluated Programs: Structured professional, government, or military services provide organized training with specific learning agendas. Completion of such programs demonstrates valuable forms of learning that qualify as credit using the Prior Learning Assessment.
Almeda University employs Adjunct Professors from many disciplines to lend their expertise in targeted areas of Prior Learning Assessment. All reviewers are either CAEL or the NAOAA certified and most have professional backgrounds with major universities that recognize practical elements of learning found outside the confines of a classroom. Once you have completed one or more of the available PLA options, your application is assigned a reviewing Professor who will evaluate your experience according to PLA guidelines and the requirements of your intended area of study.
Results of Prior Learning Assessment
With a detailed application that illustrates your conceptual and practical knowledge, your prior experience in the workplace, classroom, community, or training seminars is converted to academic credit immediately applied toward your specified degree. When experience is accepted as credit, you are not required to again prove your knowledge by taking classes in this area – your prior learning exempts you from repeating any coursework that coincides with your area of expertise. Almeda's esteemed reviewing Professors will determine if your background is extensive enough to qualify you in full for an immediate degree, or if supplemental online learning is needed to provide additional knowledge in supporting areas.
Almeda University's use of the Prior Learning Assessment provides a fast track toward your degree. Don't miss the opportunity to transform your valuable experience into a college degree. Click here for an individualized Prior Learning Assessment of your qualifications.
To apply for a degree based on your life experiences,click here.
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