Credit for Prior Learning

By transferring credits from previous institutions and earning experiential credits for your work experience, you may need fewer credits to complete your degree.

Experiential Learning Credit Defined

Course credit may be awarded either through the submission of a portfolio or external evaluation of coursework, licenses, or certificates that represent college-level learning gained outside of the classroom. Each course awarded is equivalent to 3.5 semester hours. An evaluation is always based on the knowledge you have gained from your experience, not just the experience itself, and is based on at least 160 hours of organized study. Experiential credit can be used only when applicable to the individualized degree plan of each student. At Eckerd College, we place a high significance on quality; we apply quality assurance to experiential learning.

Experiential Learning Credit through Portfolio Evaluation

A portfolio is made up of learning statements. Each learning statement is worth 3.5 semester hours or one course. You are limited to nine learning statements or one year of coursework through the portfolio process. Learning statements typically are used as electives in your degree plan or even as an internship if the experience is applicable.

While enrolled in your first course, Life, Learning and Vocation, you will meet with your academic adviser to determine if you are eligible to prepare a portfolio for experiential credit. If so, your adviser will recommend titles for each of the learning statements based on your specific knowledge in a given area.

Experiential Learning Credit through External Evaluation

Experiential credit through external evaluation includes knowledge gained through a course of study that has been rated by organizations such as the American Council on Education and the National Program on Noncollegiate Sponsored Instruction. Examples of this type of learning are courses sponsored by the National Emergency Training Center, LOMA, and the military. In each instance your credentials will be evaluated based on the appropriateness of the learning to a liberal arts degree. Additional certifications and licenses have been evaluated by faculty so that students may earn credit for knowledge they have gained through experience. Some of these credentials include licenses in both the medical and business fields. You will work with your adviser during Life, Learning and Vocation to integrate this learning into your degree plan.

Experiential Learning FAQ

What are the ten standards for assessing learning?

  1. Credit or its equivalent should be awarded only for learning, and not for experience.
  2. Assessment should be based on standards and criteria for the level of acceptable learning that are both agreed upon and made public.
  3. Assessment should be treated as an integral part of learning, not apart from it, and should be based on an understanding of learning processes.
  4. The determination of credit awards and competence levels must be made by appropriate subject matter and academic or credentialing experts.
  5. Credit or other credentialing should be appropriate to the context in which it is awarded and accepted.
  6. If awards are for credit, transcript entries should clearly describe what learning is being recognized and be monitored to avoid giving credit twice for the same learning.
  7. Policies, procedures, and criteria applied to assessment, including provision for appeal, should be fully disclosed and prominently available to all parties involved in the assessment process.
  8. Fees charged for assessment should be based on the services performed in the process and not determined by the amount of credit awarded.
  9. All personnel involved in the assessment of learning should pursue and receive adequate training and continuing professional development for the functions they perform.
  10. Assessment programs should be regularly monitored, reviewed, evaluated, and revised as needed to reflect changes in the needs being served, the purposes being met, and in the state of the assessment arts.

Source: Fiddler, Morry, Catherine Marienau, and Urban Whitaker. Assessing Learning: Standards, Principles, & Procedures. 2nd ed. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt, 2006.
Reprinted by the Council for Adult & Experiential Learning, Chicago

What are the most commonly used assessment methods for experiential learning as evaluated by Eckerd College?

  • Courses of study rated by the American Council on Education (ACE) and the National Program on Noncollegiate Sponsored Instruction (National PONSI). Examples of this type of learning are courses sponsored by the National Emergency Training Center, LOMA, and the military.
  • Certificates or licenses.
  • CLEP or DANTES testing in subjects approved by Eckerd College.
  • Portfolio evaluation.

Do I need to be enrolled at Eckerd College and working toward my B.A. degree to have credit awarded for experiential learning?

Yes. Your academic adviser or your admissions counselor can explain the details.

How do I know if my learning is college level?

By discussing your knowledge and experience with your academic adviser.

Can experiential learning awarded from other colleges or universities be transferred to Eckerd College?

Only if the credit is part of a degree (A.A., B.A. or B.S.) granted by a regionally accredited institution.

What is a portfolio of experiential learning?

A portfolio is made up of one or more learning statements. Each learning statement is your petition for one course equivalency or 3.5 semester hours.

What types of subjects are assessed through the portfolio method?

Subjects not rated by national organizations such as ACE or National PONSI or previously approved by Eckerd faculty.

How long after I submit my portfolio will I know how many courses were approved?

The evaluation of learning statements in a portfolio depends on the availability of faculty or other professionals who participate in the process. The credit you receive will be reported when your degree plan is revised to reflect the courses awarded.

Is it worthwhile to submit a portfolio if I have a large amount of transfer credit already?

Your adviser can help you determine if you have enough room on your degree plan to use portfolio credit if you also have a large about of transfer credit.

Does portfolio work have to be submitted before acceptance into PEL? What is the time frame for submitting your portfolio?

Your portfolio must be submitted prior to taking Quest for Meaning and evaluated prior to your doing your comprehensive examination course, senior thesis or senior project.

What is the number of learning statements I can submit in a portfolio?

A maximum of 9 courses, the equivalent of 1 year of credit, can be awarded by portfolio. (Please remember that students must fulfill all degree plan requirements.)

How long will it take for my learning statements to be posted to my transcript and how are they evaluated or graded?

Upon completion of the evaluation of your portfolio, your adviser will revise your degree plan to reflect the credit awarded. Credit for experience is either accepted or not; grades are not assigned and the terms pass/fail are not used.

What is experiential credit through external evaluation?

Courses of study that have been evaluated by national organizations and listed as college equivalent work.

Can experiential credit replace core courses for my major?

Most experiential credit is used for internships or open elective requirements, not for theoretical courses that comprise the majority of core courses in the major.

Would experiential credit affect my graduating with Honors or High Honors?

Yes, it might. Experiential credit is not considered in calculating the total number of courses a student has taken at Eckerd College. A student who is hoping to qualify for Honors or High Honors at graduation must have completed a minimum of 18 Eckerd College courses.

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