Credit for Prior Learning and Assessment

April 15, 2024
  • Digital Credentials
  • Learning Mobility

By Paige Selman Boucher, AACRAO Community & Volunteer Manager.

Led by Jon Calderwood, Executive Director of Enrollment Management at Mott Community College and member of AACRAO’s Prior Learning Assessment and Alternative Credit and Credentials Committee, much of this round-table discussion focused on credit for prior learning (CPL). He shared some of the research gathered from a recent  AACRAO survey on undergraduate credit for prior learning (CPL). The full report will be released later this year.

CPL, also known as prior learning assessment (PLA), is a “term for various methods that colleges, universities, and other education/training providers use to evaluate and formally recognize learning that has occurred outside of the traditional academic environment. It is used to grant college credit, certification, or advanced standing toward further education or training,” according to the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).

One key aspect of CPL is evaluation. A content expert must review materials to ensure that the learner has met the required learning outcomes in order to receive credit. The majority of evaluators are faculty members; however, they do not receive formal training. This is a major opportunity for institutions.

Best Practices

Beyond offering training for evaluators, there are several additional best practices. One key step to successfully implementing, maintaining, and growing CPL programs is to increase awareness with outreach that actively involves the students in the CPL process. This means doing more than just posting it on the website and in the catalog. Another best practice is to ensure consistency. It is important to make sure that all the information is the same whether learners find it on the website, read it in the catalog, or learn it from an admissions counselor. There also needs to be consistency across evaluators, rubrics, syllabi, and more. One way to help foster this consistency is to create a culture on campus that supports CPL. Buy-in from campus partners helps create a better process for learners.

Overall, CPL offers learners a chance to get credit for learning beyond the classroom. Frequently, it is also offered at a discounted rate. There are many areas for growth in the CPL space. The upcoming report will offer an even more detailed look into these opportunities.


AACRAO's bi-weekly professional development e-newsletter is open to members and non-members alike.