In this more limited form of PLA, students at Lewis may apply for credit for a course offered by Lewis through a challenge exam or by preparing a portfolio for the course. Not all departments at Lewis accept this form of PLA and the applicant must be able to demonstrate that s/he has met the entire package of student learning outcomes for the course.
A Challenge Exam is a comprehensive test developed by faculty for certain courses to evaluate the student’s proficiency in a course. The Challenge Exam will cover information as outlined in the course module, course outline or syllabus, and the required textbook(s). A student wishing to take a Challenge Exam is advised to obtain these course materials to prepare for the exam. The exam must be completed before the student’s final semester at Lewis. The student may make arrangements for an exam date by contacting the PLA Coordinator in the School for Professional and Continuing Education. A Challenge Exam may be taken only once by a student. The student is charged the fee to take the exam at the time of application. College Departments provide Challenge Exams to the SPCE and alter or update them as necessary.
The appropriate faculty members in each College determine the required college equivalent learning to be demonstrated by a student for this method of PLA. A designated faculty member, i.e., content expert, evaluates a student’s challenge exam, credentials, and/or Prior Learning Portfolio. Once the PLA submission is approved by the assigned faculty member, the documentation and registration form goes to the appropriate academic department chair for review and approval. The SPCE Dean (or designee) receives the final documentation and registration form to administer fee assessments and forwards notification to the Registrar.
Students interested in writing a PLA Portfolio for a catalog course must attend a free, 1½ hour “PLA Orientation Workshop.”
A Prior Learning Portfolio is a formal, multi-part document which is prepared and presented by the student to document and demonstrate the student’s college equivalent learning resulting from a previous non-collegiate experience. In the PLA Orientation Session, a template is provided to the student for organizing the portfolio so it is comprehensive, focused, and succinct in all sections including the essay and supporting documentation. Examples of Portfolio content include:
While the PLA Coordinator provides direction on format, it is the role of the assigned faculty member to work directly with the student on portfolio content so that it demonstrates the student has met the learning outcomes of a course.
Once a student registers to develop a PLA Portfolio, the timeline for completing the individual portfolio (by subject area) is one calendar year. Similar to all other PLA methods, the portfolio must be completed by the student and evaluated by the faculty member prior to the student’s last semester at the University. The portfolio is a measure of previous learning and is not to be equated with an Independent Study.