Joseph Levy, Executive Director of Assessment and Accreditation and Tracy Costello, Assistant Director of Prior Learning Assessment of NLU believe that adult students need to feel validated and know their experience and knowledge has value and worth. Consequently, they are taking the proper steps to ensure these students are acknowledged. In The EvoLLLution online newspaper, Levy and Costello’s discuss considerations for ensuring student success through PLA programs, while also highlighting example practices at NLU. Prior Learning Assessments (PLA) allow a student’s experiential learning to be evaluated for potential credit award while recognizing and validating the non-traditional learning they bring with them to college.
Through trial and error and finding the right balance of support, Levy and Costello have developed effective PLA options for undergraduate and graduate students such as credit by exam, credit by portfolio, credit by licensure and certifications, and course by arrangement to support students’ whose experience surpasses the coursework needed for completion of certain courses within some programs. These assessments are described in detail in the article and more information can be found on NLU’s PLA website.
With student support in place, Levy and Costello also created outreach initiatives that support and encourage adult learners including a PLA video showcasing students of PLA, redesigning the NLU website to provide testimonials, and program specific information fact sheets to demonstrate the PLA process (e.g., undergraduate examples here). By doing so, these efforts educate and reinforce PLA programs to students, faculty and staff, and are excellent examples for other institutions to consider. “At NLU, our institutional legacy is defined by its mindfulness in ensuring access to a diverse student body. With this in mind, we have made it our mission to provide equitable PLA opportunities for all students, supporting their unique individual backgrounds” state the innovative creators Levy and Costello. Read the article in The EvoLLLution online newspaper and learn more about NLU’s PLA services at https://www.nl.edu/pla/.
These results, as well as other workshops from various adult education groups will be discussed at the CAEL (Council for Adult and Experiential Learning) Conference “Plug in: Energize Adults Pathways to Success” at the Palmer House on Wednesday, November 6 to help support and promote the continuing efforts for PLA options for adults in and around the Chicagoland area. NLU is sponsoring the event, and the conference is opened to anyone would like to attend. More information can be found here.