Adult Degree Program debuts portfolio review process for academic credit

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Lipscomb University’s Adult Degree Program is now offering a new option for adult degree students: Prior Learning Assessment, or more specifically, portfolio review for credit.

The process allows students with four years of work or military experience to earn credit for specified classes by completing a four-week, online course and compiling a portfolio demonstrating how they have met a specific course’s learning objectives through out-of-class learning experiences.

In the portfolio process, adult degree students collaborate with their academic advisor to identify classes covering areas they are already familiar with through equivalent work experience, said Teresa Clark, director of new program research and design, and assistant professor of integrated studies. Students participate in the four-week online course to learn how to write a paper and compile a portfolio showing they have already met specific learning objectives.  

Portfolios often include documentation of work experience, essays, proof of professional certifications, work evaluations, papers written prior to enrollment and more, Clark said. A separate portfolio must be compiled for each course the student is seeking academic credit for, she said. Select faculty are being specially trained through the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning to serve as portfolio assessors.

“In the past we had a lot of questions from students about how they could use their work experience and how they could demonstrate learning experience,” said Clark. “While we have offered our adult degree students other forms of prior learning assessment – such as credit for CLEP tests or credit by exam, portfolio review was a popular option that was missing until now.

“We are excited to add portfolio review to our program because it really helps students finish their degree more quickly and saves them money,” she said. “If someone has worked in an area for 20 years, offering portfolio review lets them know that we honor the experience they are bringing to the table.”

Lipscomb’s Adult Degree Program in the College of Professional Studies serves working adults who are enrolled to complete a bachelor’s degree, taking accelerated courses online, on weekends and at night. Majors offered through the program include psychology; accounting; education; social work; information technology; management; human resources; law, justice and society; and integrated studies, allowing students to combine two available majors.

In the second term of the fall 2012 semester, the Adult Degree Program had 222 students enrolled, the most in its history, Clark said.

The portfolio review process is not available for classes at the 4000 level and above, which are usually practicum-based courses such as student teaching or field studies.

For more information on the Adult Degree Program and the new portfolio review process, contact Teresa Clark at 615.966.1100.