Colleges & Universities

CAEL’s research and publications help you understand how to improve the way you serve your adult students. You’ll also find extensive data on adult learners and degree attainment, as well as in-depth research and guidance on Prior Learning Assessment and its effectiveness.

Research & Publications


  • Best Practices for Serving the Student Veteran


  • Valuing Veterans Pledge

    McCormick Foundation

  • State Policy Approaches to Support Prior Learning

    CAEL and HCM Strategists

  • Competency-Based Degree Programs in the U.S.: Postsecondary Credentials for Measurable Student Learning and Performance


    This paper examines the current state of competency-based postsecondary education in the U.S., profiling the various types of competency-based, or competency-focused, models that currently exist, the extent to which these programs assess for student competencies or learning outcomes, and the extent to which these programs operate outside of a credit-based system.

  • The Career Lattice

    Joanne Cleaver

    The traditional corporate ladder has become a thing of the past. In her new book, Joanne Cleaver presents the idea that "over is the new up." Instead of following the established moving up the ladder path, The Career Lattice paves a flexible career path for those professionals seeking a way to make transitions in their career. The book features many case studies from CAEL's work to help adult learners discover their career path.

  • Innovation in Maryland Nursing Education to Meet Anticipated Demand


    This policy brief describes innovative approaches to nursing education and how the policy leadership help to support the use and expansion of these models and strategies while keeping a sharp focus on educational quality.

  • Earn College Credit for What You Know, fifth edition

    Janet Colvin

    This edition offers the latest, most current information on prior learning assessment (PLA). Earlier editions of this book, specifically written for adult learners considering the prior learning assessment process, have assisted tens of thousands of adult learners.  The book is also helpful to evaluators, administrators, faculty, and training managers.  Many CAEL member institutions use this book as text for their PLA portfolio development courses.

    The new 5th edition of Earn College for What You Know features: 

    • Updated references throughout the publication
    • Exercises for understanding and applying learning theory
    • Profiles of adult students and their successful use of prior learning assessment to complete their degrees
    • Explanation of the CAEL standards for quality prior learning assessment
    • An expanded and refined focus on the use of online portfolios

    A 20% discount is available for members. Price: $29.95, E-Book Price: $14.95

  • Webinar Recording

    Linking Learning to Work


    Despite high unemployment, many employers are finding it difficult to find the talent they need. Why? Because the skills of our workforce are not keeping pace with the demands of work in our knowledge economy. A study by Georgetown University estimates that by 2018, 63% of jobs in the U.S. will require at least some college. However, only 42% of adults aged 25-34 have attained a postsecondary degree.

    In this webinar, you’ll learn about the factors contributing to this trend, and hear suggestions about steps you can take to attract and develop your workforce in this sluggish economy.

  • CAEL's 2012 Research Briefs on PLA

    Employer Views on the Value of PLA


    This CAEL research brief, produced in partnership with Prometric, presents highlights from conversations with 19 U.S. employers representing a range of industries on the topic of PLA. The conversations address the value of PLA to both workers and corporations, as well as employers’ views on PLA as an allowable expense within their tuition assistance programs.

  • CAEL's Tapping Mature Talent Series

    Just Add Seasoning: A Business Case for Tapping Mature Talent


    Mature workers can and should be tapped by employers to fill entry level jobs, meet the needs of middle- or high-skill work, or serve as experienced mentors to the new generation of workers.

  • CAEL's 2012 Research Briefs on PLA

    The Learning That Maturity Brings: An Analysis of the Value of Prior Learning Assessment for Mature Learners


    Just as mature workers bring decades of experience to the workplace, they also bring learning from that experience to their postsecondary pursuits. This learning, if evaluated through prior learning assessment (PLA) methods, can give mature learners a way to earn college credit for what they already know, helping them complete their learning programs in a shorter period of time. This CAEL research brief presents data on the experience of mature learners with PLA credit.


  • STEM Education: Utility Gets Out of the Box and Online to Develop Workforce


    The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), received funding from the Xcel Energy Foundation and a Metro Denver WIRED grant to create a program model to reach into local high schools and attract and prepare students to enter careers in the energy industry.

  • Mentors 4 STEM Program Explores New Roles for Mature Adults in Public School Classrooms


    CAEL sought to match the supply of motivated baby boomers with the urgent need to improve science and math education in public schools by creating a volunteer math and science mentoring program.

  • Lifelong Learning in the USA: A Focus on Innovation and Efficiency for the 21st Century Learner

    International Journal of Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning, Vol. 4, Issue 1 (Nov 2011)

    Article by Pamela Tate, Rebecca Klein-Collins, and Karen Steinberg on innovations in adult learning. Copyright owned by International Journal of Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning, Vol. 4, Issue 1 (Nov 2011), published by the School of Professional and Continuing Education, University of Hong Kong
  • State Strategies to Support the Maturing Workforce: A Paper for CAEL’s Tapping Mature Talent Initiative


    This paper describes strategies that states and regions can consider in their efforts to assist mature workers and also to use this group as a valuable resource in meeting skill requirements for developing economies. We look at strategies that have been developed and used in a U.S. Department of Labor-funded initiative in ten pilot sites since 2009 as well as strategies that state leaders have implemented to support the mature workforce.

  • Maturity in the Workplace: Stories of Workers Aged 55+ on Their Journeys to New Work and Careers


    This publication profiles the stories of some of the mature workers who have participated in the Tapping Mature Talent initiative. Some have needed to upgrade their skills, some have pursued brand new careers in high-growth industries, some have worked hard to recover after layoffs and other hardships, and some have found themselves thriving as they pursue postsecondary degrees.

  • CAEL identifies industries and jobs appropriate for mature workers

    Career Pathways and Career Counseling for the 50+ workforce

    Written and compiled by: Sarah Miller, Joel Simon and Gabe Schneider

    With generous support from the MetLife Foundation, the Council for Adult and Experiential
    Learning (CAEL) has worked with seven regions across to country to raise the capacity of
    community colleges to address some of the challenges facing mature workers, those age 50 years
    and older. CAEL worked with each region to identify priority industries, examine the job and
    career opportunities in those industries, and highlight the opportunities that are most appropriate
    for mature workers. Employers representing each regionally prioritized industry were identified
    and consulted to focus the research on the realities of the local area. Additionally, group training
    sessions were conducted in each region to provide career advisors and workforce development
    professionals with region-specific information and resources for more effectively working with
    mature workers.

  • CAEL's 2011 Research Briefs on PLA:

    Moving the Starting Line Through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)


    This research brief provides an analysis of the average number of credits students earn for what they already know. It offers information on the average number of PLA credits earned by a subgroup of 4,905 students in our sample, looking at how the average number of credits differs by institution type and by students of various demographic groups.

  • ALFI Report:

    2011 National Adult Learner Satisfaction-Priorities Report

    CAEL and Noel-Levitz

    The report reveals the results of the pilot study of the new Adult Learner Inventory™ conducted by Noel-Levitz and CAEL (Council for Adult and Experiential Learning). The results identify the level of importance that adult learners place on aspects of their student experience and how satisfied adult learners are that institutions are meeting their expectations.
  • Strategies to Produce New Nurses for a Changing Profession

    Rebecca Klein-Collins

    This policy brief provides data on the projected nursing shortage, discusses the larger issues facing nursing education today, and describes pockets of innovation in nursing education that provide models for the kind of innovation policy-makers should embrace in order to meet the growing demand for a highly-educated nursing workforce.
  • CAEL's 2011 Research Briefs on PLA:

    Underserved Students Who Earn Credit Through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Have Higher Degree Completion Rates and Shorter Time-to-Degree

    Rebecca Klein-Collins

    In this research brief, CAEL showcases findings from our 2010 PLA study by race/ethnicity and income – two demographic categories often used to define underserved student groups. The data show that black non-Hispanic, Hispanic, and low income students with PLA credits have better academic outcomes than similar students without PLA credits. The positive findings for low-income, black non-Hispanic and Hispanic students suggest that awarding college credit for significant life learning could be an effective way to accelerate degree completion, while lowering the cost, for underserved student populations.

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