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CAEL Pathways Blog

Prior Learning Assessment Done Right: A Look at Texas A&M Texarkana's PLA Program

As a longtime advocate for prior learning assessment (PLA), CAEL takes great pride in being able to recognize colleges and universities that have implemented PLA in ways that are especially effective for reaching adult students. CAEL's Director of Partnership Development Valerie Delleville recently did exactly that, providing a case study in The Journal of Continuing Higher Education on how Texas A&M University Texarkana's (TAMUT) PLA offerings deserve accolades.


In her study, Delleville shares insight on TAMUT's PLA program from Lisa Myers, TAMUT's Coordinator of the Bachelor of Arts in Applied Science (BAAS) program. Myers, an Adult Education instructor who has been at the forefront as an advocate for offering PLA methods to students, spoke with Delleville on how institutions can more effectively encourage buy-in for PLA adoption, both institutionally and from students.

'As with any strategic [PLA] initiative, the best-intentioned policy is only as good as the implementation, operations, and people behind it,' Delleville notes in the introduction of the study. 'This adage is useful whether an institution is introducing a new PLA policy or revising a current policy.'

TAMUT is notable for its level of PLA support, Delleville says, owing a great deal of its success to the strong support it's received throughout the institution: 

'TAMUT's commitment to adult learners is regularly illustrated through the dedication of their key staff, like Lisa Myers and [College of Education & Liberal Arts academic advisor] Rachel Cherry, and their robust PLA program. This commitment is further demonstrated by offering two unique portfolio assessment models, including one that the university has offered for over 40 years, and LearningCounts through CAEL. Lisa has worked closely with CAEL to make TAMUT the first institution that currently embeds the Design Your Portfolio (DYP) workshop into a credit-bearing TAMUT class.

'This sustainable move makes it not only possible for students to pursue the non-credit workshop in alignment with a required BAAS course, but it also minimizes the financial burden by allowing their tuition to cover both the instructor-led course at TAMUT and the DYP workshop simultaneously. Customizing operations to ensure the maximum student benefit at minimal cost continues to hold TAMUT as a best practices example. It is always a pleasure to work with TAMUT because of their willingness to operate outside of the box, and innovate in a way that always benefits their students.'

To read Delleville's full case study in The Journal of Continuing Higher Education, click here (registration required).

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