Prior learning is learning gained through life or work outside of structured higher educational courses. Many people learn through their experiences in life such as those in professional endeavors (through business, the military, or other work/training experiences) or through other educational experiences (through community work, family, travel, or personal study).
Prior Learning Assessment (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 at GSC.
The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) 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, & Urban Whitaker, p. 12).
Gainesville State College has joined with other University System of Georgia institutions as part of the Adult Learning Consortium and Soldiers 2 Scholars initiative in order to offer a wide range of course for PLA credit. As part of the PLA program students will work with a PLA counselor to help determine which courses they could possibly demonstrate college-level knowledge of a subject by completing a PLA portfolio.
A total of thirty (30) semester hours may be earned through any combination of credit by departmental examination, national standardized examinations, correspondence courses, extension work, advanced placement, International Baccalaureate credit and PLA by portfolio.
For more information consult the PLA Student Handbook