What is PLA (Prior Learning Assessment)?
Prior learning is learning gained through life or work. Many people learn through their experiences in life such as those in
- professional endeavors (through business, the military, or other work and training experiences); or other
- educational experiences (through community work, family, travel, or personal study).
PLA is a process through which students identify areas of relevant learning from their past experiences, demonstrate that learning through appropriate documentation, and submit their materials so that they can be assessed and possibly awarded academic credit relative to specific course objectives.
The Council of Adult and Experiential Learning defines PLA as follows: "The recognition of learning gained from experiences that may be granted credit or otherwise certified… The assessment of learning attained through experiences irrespective of the time and place in which they occurred." (Assessing Learning, 2nd edition, By Morry Fiddler, Catherine Marienau, and Urban Whitaker p.12)
Who is eligible to participate in PLA?
Prospective students who fit the following criteria are eligible to participate in PLA:
- they are adults
- they are non-traditional students
- they have other learning experiences outside of a traditional college curriculum.
The PLA process guides students as they:
- identify areas of relevant learning from past experiences,
- demonstrate learning through appropriate documentation,
- submit materials for assessment, and
- possibly gain academic credit relative to specific GSC course objectives.
For more information on how PLA works, view the PDF version of the 2015 PLA Student Handbook .
The PLA 2000 Documentation Course is offered online to assist students with the development of required portfolio documentation. This course is offered through Ingress which is an online registration system utilized through the University System of Georgia (Additional Ingress information). Please contact the GSC, Adult Learner coordinator for details regarding enrollment.
What are the advantages of PLA?
PLA will help students who 1) Are entering college for the first time, or 2) Are recently becoming reacquainted with college learning and expectations.
PLA will also reduce the time and money required to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree although it will require the investment of both. Certain PLA components require fees such as testing for standardized and department examinations or portfolio assessment evaluations.
By evaluating prior learning, GSC verifies that experiential learning has taken place and is comparable to college level courses.