Supporting Adult Learners: Credit for Prior Learning Pathways

Research shows that adult learners are more likely to persist and complete a postsecondary credential when given comprehensive and transparent credit for prior learning options.

Mary Beth Lakin, Director for College and University Partnerships in the Center for Education Attainment and Innovation at the American Council on Education (ACE), will discuss trends, research, and effective practices in the field of prior learning assessment at this year’s AACRAO Annual Meeting in Baltimore.

See this session and others at AACRAO's 101st Annual Meeting in Baltimore, MD.  Register today!


Mary Beth Lakin

American Council on Education

Supporting Adult Learners: Credit for Prior Learning Pathways

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 8:00 AM - 9:15 AM

AACRAO: What’s the current research regarding credit for prior learning?

Lakin: Recent research—in fact, AACRAO just did a survey—shows that more institutions are moving toward more comprehensive policies. For example, students may have industry certifications, military training or on the job learning experiences ; assessments may be in the form of third party validation of military or corporate training, such as ACE’s review and recommendation process  national exam, such as CLEP, or a portfolio or some other kind of individualized assessment. When there are multiple methods of earning credit and it’s easier to find and choose these options, students are more likely to enroll, persist and complete credentials. A recent Gallup/Lumina survey showed that a majority of the public support credit for prior learning and that more people would go to school if they knew they had that option.

AACRAO: What are the biggest challenges to prior learning credit?

Lakin: One of the biggest challenges now is student navigation. How does a student know his/her options? How does a student know where to start and where to go with problems or questions? Institutions are working on making these resources more accessible for students to navigate, and we’re starting to see very effective initiatives in these areas.

The other challenge that goes along with that is the transcripting of credit for prior learning. We’re trying to  learn more about how it’s transcripted and how the data is collected. It’s important to know what’s most effective for student completion and also most affordable.

The workshop will be interactive and attendees will have the chance to share what they’re doing in outreach, advising, and transcripting, and how faculty and advisors are engaged from policy to practice.

AACRAO: Can you offer an example of an effective practice?

Lakin: There are a lot of really great examples. The Pennsylvania Community College system built  a comprehensive website where students can see all their options for getting prior learning assessed, how to get started and what advising is available to help with problem solving ( The University of Wisconsin system is also  broadening policies and   expanding transfer agreements among two- and four-year institutions.  ( And there’s a multistate collaborative in Midwest working to make the articulation of military credit more standardized and transferable ( Those are just a few of the initiatives developing across the country.

AACRAO: What else are you looking forward to at the Annual Meeting?

Lakin: I always look forward to networking and learning what other organizations and institutions are doing. The AACRAO Annual Meeting is a great place for doing that.