ASSESSMENT OF PRIOR LEARNING FOR ACADEMIC CREDIT
PROCEDURES FOR UNDERGRADUATE PRIOR LEARNING ASSESSMENT
Matriculated undergraduate students at Ramapo College of New Jersey are eligible to apply for, and may acquire credit for, knowledge that they have gained outside the traditional academic setting through work, training, community service, and other accomplishments. The process of Prior Learning Assessment involves the development of a portfolio reviewed by an identified faculty member who confirms that the prior learning for which the student wishes credit is relevant to a particular program’s or course’s learning outcomes. Credit by PLA portfolio is available to all undergraduate students, but is most commonly used by adult learners . Ramapo follows the standards developed by The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) regarding assessment of prior learning (www.cael.org/pla). The following procedure outlines the steps by which a PLA portfolio review begins and culminates with the awarding of credits.
Reviewing PLA portfolio policies with student
General information about earning credits through PLA portfolio is made available to students at transfer and adult orientation sessions. Any matriculated undergraduate student interested in earning credit through PLA portfolio must schedule a meeting with the Director of the Degree Completion Program (DCP) to discuss courses for which he or she is requesting PLA credits. The DCP Director provides the student with the PLA Student Handbook, as well as the Application Packet and other resources, and reviews the following policies with the student:
- Students may earn a maximum of 16 credits through PLA portfolio in an undergraduate program.
- Credits awarded through PLA portfolio are treated as transfer credits. Transfer credits are comprised of transfer courses from previous institutions, CLEP credits, and PLA portfolio credits. Undergraduate students who have already reached the maximum amount of 80 transfer credits may not earn credits through a PLA portfolio.
- Students must adhere to the College residency requirement and thus may not earn credits through PLA as part of their final 32 credits of degree.
- PLA must address the outcomes of a specific course in the current Ramapo catalog. Portfolios may be submitted for 100-300 level courses only and may not be used to substitute for a capstone course.
- Courses petitioned through PLA must not duplicate transfer credit or any other coursework used to fulfill degree requirements. Students who enroll in a Ramapo course and do not earn a passing grade may not petition to earn credit for that same course through PLA portfolio.
- The credit request for a PLA portfolio must match the amount of credit normally awarded for the course being petitioned.
Applying for PLA portfolio credits
Once the meeting is complete, the DCP Director directs the student to the appropriate Dean to discuss the portfolio option as it relates to a specific course. If the Dean determines that earning credit through PLA portfolio is appropriate for the identified course, they, in consultation with the Convener, will identify a faculty member to act as the portfolio assessor.
The student then meets with the designated faculty assessor to discuss the requirements and expectations of the portfolio. Together they determine how the student can best demonstrate in a portfolio the kinds of knowledge, competencies, and skills acquired through prior learning. The student and faculty assessor come to a clear understanding of the portfolio requirements, the criteria that the assessor will use to determine if the student has met the course learning outcomes, and the timeline for completing the portfolio. This information is documented on the PLA Portfolio Contract which is signed by the student, the faculty assessor, and the Dean. The student is responsible for obtaining the Dean’s signature on the PLA Portfolio Contract.
Once all of the above approvals have been obtained, the Dean’s office forwards the completed PLA Portfolio Contract to the DCP Director, who posts the assessment fee to the student’s account. The assessment fee must be paid before the portfolio can be reviewed, and the DCP Director is responsible for confirming payment of the assessment fee.
Assessing the PLA portfolio
The student submits the completed PLA portfolio to the faculty assessor by the agreed deadline. The faculty assessor reviews the completed PLA portfolio and meets with student if a meeting is part of the assessment. The faculty assessor then completes the PLA Portfolio Review Sheet and either: 1) approves awarding credit for the portfolio; 2) denies awarding credit for the portfolio; or 3) requests a revision and re-submission of the portfolio by a specified date. Requests for resubmission are at the discretion of the assessor, not the student. Failure to resubmit a revised portfolio by the specified date will result in a denial of credit for the portfolio.
The faculty assessor notifies the student in writing of the assessment result, and submits the portfolio and completed PLA Portfolio Review Sheet to the DCP Office. If credit is awarded, the DCP Director, requests that the Office of the Registrar post the awarded credits to the student’s transcript. The DCP Office forwards all portfolios approved for credit to the Office of the Registrar for inclusion in the student’s official academic file. If a portfolio is not approved for credit or if re-submission is requested, the DCP Office returns the portfolio to the student.
Processing an assessor stipend
The DCP Director processes all necessary paperwork for faculty assessor compensation, which is based on a flat rate per single portfolio. However, on occasion, there may be a reason to award credit for more than one course equivalency in a single PLA portfolio. In those cases, the stipend paid to the faculty assessor will be determined on a per-hour rate to equal not less than the flat rate per single portfolio.
PLA portfolio fee structure
Students who submit a PLA portfolio must pay an assessment fee. This fee must be paid prior to the portfolio assessment and is non-refundable regardless of the outcome of the portfolio assessment. The fee is based on the number of credits requested in the portfolio. The current per-credit fee is posted on the College’s website along with the current tuition and other fees.
PROCEDURES FOR GRADUATE PRIOR LEARNING ASSESSMENT (GPLA)
Graduate students at Ramapo College of New Jersey may receive credit for graduate-level knowledge that they have gained outside the traditional academic setting through work, training and professional development, certifications and licenses, community service, or other accomplishments. (Not all graduate programs accept GPLA). Please review individual program requirements.) The process of graduate prior learning experience assessment involves the development of a portfolio and an interview that confirms that the learning the student has achieved through his/her life experience is relevant to the program’s learning goals upon review and discretion of each graduate Program Director and respective Dean.
When a graduate student applies to Ramapo College, they are made aware of the opportunity to apply for GPLA. (Note: GPLA information is provided on the Graduate Admissions website.) GPLA requirements include:
- Prior learning experience may be substituted for up to two (2) courses (not to exceed 8 credits) in the graduate program.
- GPLA credit is considered transfer credit; therefore, the combination of transfer credit and GPLA credit may not exceed two (2) courses or eight (8) credits. The Transfer Credit Policy must be considered and adhered to in the awarding of GPLA credits.
- GPLA credits can only equate to 500- or 600-level courses. GPLA credit is not permitted to equate to 700-level courses.
- The Program Director or designee reviews and evaluates applications for prior learning credit and recommends the number of credits to be awarded. The Dean makes the final approval.
- GPLA credit may be granted for equivalent coursework offered at Ramapo College.
- When the experience does not compare to a Ramapo course but falls within the purview of the evaluator’s expertise, credit may be granted as an elective.
- GPLA credits are awarded a TP or “transfer pass” grade, so they are not calculated in the student’s GPA.
- All GPLA documentation, including the portfolio and assessment rubric, are kept in the student’s permanent record. Credits earned through GPLA are reflected in the graduate degree audit.
Criteria for graduate prior learning assessment (GPLA)
Criteria for acceptance of prior learning experiences include:
- The experience must be relevant to the program’s learning goals.
- The experience must be comparable to graduate-level coursework.
- The experience must have taken place after the awarding of the bachelor’s degree and before enrollment in the graduate program.
- The student must document and submit a GPLA portfolio by the deadline agreed upon by the student and the Program Director but no later than the end of the first semester enrolled in the graduate program.
- The student must follow guidelines listed on the GPLA application and may meet with the Program Director prior to final submission of the GPLA portfolio to obtain guidance or advice/consultation as needed.
- Decisions regarding GPLA are final.
GPLA process – application and portfolio contract
- Students interested in submitting a GPLA portfolio for credit should schedule an appointment with the Director of their graduate program.
- The student is strongly encouraged to complete the Proposal section of the GPLA Portfolio Contract, including the one-page description of relevant activities, prior to meeting with the Program Director.
- During the appointment, the Program Director will review the student’s academic record to make sure that they are eligible to earn credits through GPLA, will outline the procedure for submitting a portfolio, and will provide the student with a copy of the GPLA Portfolio Contract.
- The Program Director and student will discuss possible course options for the GPLA portfolio as warranted. It is recommended that the student obtain and review the descriptions and syllabi for identified courses.
- If the Program Director determines that a course is appropriate for credit after evaluating the GPLA portfolio, they will identify themself as the assessor or assign a faculty member to act as the portfolio assessor.
- The student will then meet with the designated assessor to discuss the GPLA portfolio. Together, they should come to a clear understanding of: a) the portfolio requirements; b) the criteria that the assessor will use to determine whether the student has met the learning outcomes of the course(s); and c) a timeline to complete the process.
- The student and faculty assessor complete and sign the GPLA Portfolio Contract. The student is responsible for obtaining the Dean’s signature on the GPLA Portfolio Contract. The Dean’s office will return the completed Contract to the Program Director.
- The student must submit a completed GPLA portfolio to the Program Director by the agreed-upon deadline. The Program Director applies the assessment fee to the student account. Once the assessment fee is paid by the student, the portfolio and the GPLA Portfolio Review Rubric are sent to the assessor.
- The assessor reviews the completed GPLA portfolio and meets with the student if a meeting is included in the portfolio.
- The assessor completes the GPLA Portfolio Review Rubric and either approves or disapproves awarding credit for the GPLA portfolio or recommends resubmission. The assessor notifies the student in writing of the assessment result and submits the GPLA portfolio and the GPLA Portfolio Review Rubric to the Office of the Registrar.
- The Office of the Registrar processes credit requests for all GPLA portfolios approved for credit.
Processing an assessor stipend
The Dean’s office processes all necessary paperwork for faculty assessor compensation, which is based on a flat rate per single portfolio. However, on occasion, there may be a reason to award credit for more than one course equivalency in a single GPLA portfolio. In those cases, the stipend paid to the faculty assessor will be determined on a per-hour rate to equal not less than the flat rate per single portfolio.
GPLA portfolio fee structure
Students who submit a GPLA portfolio must pay an assessment fee. This fee must be paid prior to the portfolio assessment and is non-refundable regardless of the outcome of the portfolio assessment. The fee is based on the number of credits requested in the portfolio. The current per-credit fee is posted on the College’s website along with the current tuition and other fees.
 At Ramapo College, an adult student is a student who is financially independent, meaning that he/she is 25 years or older, married or in a civil union, a veteran, has dependents other than a spouse, or is an orphan or ward of the court.