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PLA Petition

Why might I want to develop a Portfolio?

If you are like most returning adult learners, you have accumulated learning and knowledge throughout your work and life experiences that may be similar to that which others have acquired by taking a college course.

The development of a portfolio for assessing your accumulated learning and knowledge is a unique way of earning college credits. By documenting learning outside the classroom, hundreds of adult students have saved countless tuition dollars and classroom hours by earning credits based on the learning and knowledge acquired outside of the traditional classroom.

Take a moment to review this short video.

How do I develop a portfolio?

The development of a portfolio begins with the completion of an application. The application is to be submitted with a resume to Prior Learning Coordinator Liston Campus Room 2222). These two things initiate the process.


Once we have the application and resume, we will send you the Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) for each of the courses you list on the application. These SLO's are to guide you in your first draft of a portfolio narrative. Think of it as "I need to write about what I learned about this, how and when to use this knowledge, and why this knowledge is important." Demonstrating that you know each of these four things will go a long way in the evaluation of your narrative for credit.

You will be assigned a faculty adviser who will then review your first draft. They will provide direction and guidance on your narrative. In working with a faculty member, the student can then refine and clear up any questions the faculty member may have regarding the narrative. This may (or may not) include a demonstration of the learning. (The demonstration is at the discretion of the faculty member and department.)

Keep in mind that prior learning will be reviewed for credit towards courses in your program of study. Some credit may be awarded towards a specific program of study, but some may be awarded towards electives in your program of study.

What is a portfolio?

Students pull together a set of communications, often called a portfolio narrative, that includes information such as:

  • a resume,
  • training records from company or professional organizations,
  • letters of recommendation from current or formed managers,
  • certificates earned,
  • examples of work products, etc.

All of which support your knowledge or skills learned from a wide variety of sources.

The portfolio narrative you submit "...makes a case by identifying learning clearly and succinctly, and it must provide sufficient supporting information and documentation so that faculty can use it, alone or in combination with other evidence, as the basis for their evaluation" (Lois Lamdin, Earn College Credit for What You Know. p. 84).

Will someone help me prepare a Portfolio?

Once it has been determined that the Prior Learning Assessment of a Portfolio is right for you, you will be assigned a faculty advisor/mentor to assist you in developing your portfolio.

How Long Will it Take to Assess a completed Portfolio?

The amount of time needed to assess your petition will depend on a number of factors such as the type of courses chosen; the contents of the petition and even the time of year. On average, once a petition has been accepted, the actual assessment should be completed within 6 to 8 weeks. However, the College cannot guarantee this time frame. If you need the credits by a certain date to meet a graduation or promotional deadline, plan ahead to allow ample time for the assessment to be completed.

NOTE: If CLEP, DSST, or UExcel exams are available for any of the courses listed in your application, you will be advised to take the exam. Credits awarded from the exams are recognized at many colleges and universities across the nation. These exams are definitely in your best interest in helping you be successful here at CCRI and in any institution you may find yourself in the future. Note: there are separate lists of exams for CLEP, DSST, and UExcel - check each of them, first.

What Subjects are Eligible for Credit?

Like all programs offered by the Community College of Rhode Island, the Prior Learning Assessment of a Portfolio operates on the belief that college-level learning, no matter how it is gained, deserves college credits. Therefore, nearly any area of learning (with some exceptions) can be converted into credits at CCRI as long as:

  • it can be demonstrated to be college level,
  • you can prove your expertise in it, and
  • it fulfills a requirement for a course in your program of study.

There are only a few types of courses that cannot be assessed through the petition process. These include courses in the following categories:

  • Physical education
  • Internships
  • Cooperative education
  • Course areas in which CCRI faculty have no expertise.

Portfolios are assessed by a faculty expert in that particular subject. If the assessor determines that your knowledge of the subject is college-level and is equal to a grade of "C" or better, then he or she will recommend that you receive credit.

If your knowledge and learning is judged to be insufficient, the faculty will deny credit. Students may appeal the denial of credit. If the assessor decides that further information is needed in order to make a recommendation; you may be asked to submit additional evidence, take an examination or be interviewed by the assessor. In fact, petition applicants can offer to take an examination at the outset if evidence cannot be obtained.

Denial of Credit

Students who are notified that the grading instructor has denied credit, will have the right to appeal that decision. Students will have 10 days from the date of denial to submit a written appeal.

The Department Chair of the grading instructor reviews these appeals first. If questions still remain regarding the outcome of the assessment, they may be appealed to the Dean of Business, Science and Technology, who makes the final decision on disputes over the awarding of credit.

An appeal of credit denial will be reviewed provided that the student has

  • Submitted it in writing
  • Filed it within the required time period (10 days) and
  • Complied with any request from the faculty assessor for additional information or testing.