What is PLAR?
UFV respects the learning that students bring to our institution and we will assist adult learners to earn credit for what they already know and can do. Prior Learning Assessment (PLAR) is a process that gives you the opportunity to receive credit for what you already know and can do. Qualified specialists at UFV assess the skills and knowledge that you have already acquired against learning outcomes of UFV courses.
Am I a Good Candidate?
The following criteria is a guideline only, and is not meant to be exhaustive. Contact the PLAR Coordinator or a faculty member to discuss your personal suitability.
Your employment history:
- You have at least five years of experience in one job or a number of closely related jobs.
- You have learned and continually upgraded your skills within your field of employment.
- You have entrepreneurial experience.
Your educational history:
- The knowledge and skills that you possess are a result of informal education such as classes taken at a night school or through your employer.
- You have taken post-secondary education that could not be given direct transfer credit.
- You have foreign credentials that have not been recognized in Canada.
Your personal history:
- You have volunteered your skills in the community.
- You are willing to take time to document your learning and explore ways to have it evaluated.
- You can provide evidence of your skills and knowledge.
After reading a course outline you have thought one or more of the following things:
- I’ve done this type of work before.
- I’m doing this type of work now.
- I feel comfortable that I already know how to do what is required in the course, but I’m not sure what evidence I can provide to prove it.
How can PLAR benefit me?
Skills and knowledge learned through experience is called experiential learning and UFV recognizes that adults bring valuable experiential learning to their program of choice at UFV. Experiential learning is in contrast to the type of learning that is done by taking courses at an educational institution which we call formal learning .
You may be eligible to receive transfer credit if you have previous formal learning in Canada or if you've completed courses or a credential outside of Canada. UFV will assess your formal learning by reviewing transcripts from the college or university you attended. The assessment is actually an evaluation of the school and the courses you have taken, not an assessment of your individual learning.
Universities assess experiential learning differently because it is your individual learning that is being assessed, not the place or places where that learning took place. With the help of UFV's PLAR staff, you will know the standard(s) you have to meet to be successful (e.g. receive academic through PLAR) and be given the support you need to help you prove what you know and can do through a variety of different methods (see Proving it: Assessment).
For a better understanding of learning vs experience click here.
How do I get Started?
Step 1 : Contact the PLAR Coordinator in Assessment Services
Because everyone's prior learning is different and there are various methods of assessment, you should contact Lori Wirth, Acting PLAR Coordinator as a first step. You will be asked to identify the course(s) that you wish to obtain credit for. If you aren't sure which courses you may be eligible to PLAR we can help get you started in the right direction.
Our goal will be to help you organize your learning to prove your eligibility to pursue PLAR in courses or departments that best reflect your experiential learning.
Click here to contact PLAR online
What the PLAR Coordinator will want to discuss:
Once the course(s) have been identified, the first order of business will be to view the learning outcomes for that course. Every UFV course has a course outline that includes learning outcomes. Learning outcomes explain what students are expected to have learned by the end of the course. If you feel confident that you have met these requirements through your prior learning then you're on the right track. If, after reading the learning outcomes of the course, you don't feel that your learning is represented, you should consider taking the course.
The next order of business is to write your learning demonstration statements which reflect the learning outcomes of UFV courses. A learning demonstration statement describes the type of learning and the context/environment where the learning took place. Learning demonstration statements can be in every part of the PLAR process. They make it possible for you to describe your learning (what you know and can do) in a way that can be "assessed" or measured for academic credit.
Sample Learning Outcomes and Learning Demonstration Statements:
Computer Information System (CIS) 100:
"At the end of this course a student will be able to describe the process of developing a document that communicates specific information."
A learning demonstration statement that reflects the CIS learning outcome:
"I have demonstrated the process of developing a document that communicates specific information by identifying the purpose of the document and the intended reader/audience of the document and drafting a plan to create the document."
Once you have written learning demonstration statements for each of the course learning outcomes, you will be ready to move to the next step.
For more on learning outcomes and learning demonstration statements click here.
Step 2 : Meet with an advisor
Once you have prepared the necessary materials (and feel comfortable with how the process works) we will direct you to the appropriate program-specific advisor or faculty member who will assess your eligibility to use PLAR in a course or courses by reading your learning demonstration statements and talking with you about your experiential learning. You may have more than one meeting with the department depending on how equivalent your prior learning is to UFV courses and the level of organization your prior learning requires.
If it is determined that you are eligible to pursue PLAR for the course(s), you will then discuss how and when your learning can be formally assessed.
Your advisor will want to discuss:
- Your learning demonstration statements.
- How your learning or skills can most effectively be assessed (see Proving it: Assessment in step 3).
- When and where your assessment will take place.
- Confirm the potential results if you are successful or unsuccessful in meeting the learning outcomes of a UFV course or program.
- What you are responsible for in the formal assessment. (e.g. gathering evidence, organizing learning and reflecting of what you have learned from your experiences)
- What the faculty assessor is responsible for in the formal assessment. (e.g. creating assessment criteria and assessing the depth, breadth and currency of your learning against the learning outcomes of UFV courses or program)
- How and when you will receive your results.
After your meeting we are still here to help you with any of the next steps in your application (such as the development of a professional or academic portfolio), or we can direct you to other resources within the UFV community.
Step 3: Proving it - Assessment
You'll follow the plan that you and your faculty assessor created in Stage 2 of the process. Your assessment could included one or more of the following:
You may be asked to write an exam to test your knowledge. This method is most common when you are challenging a single course rather than a set of courses or program. Questions may be in one format or a combination of formats such as multiple choice, short answers or essays.
In Person Skill Demonstraion
Your advisor may decide that a demonstration of your skills is the best method. This is more common when courses require human interaction (e.g. a foreign language or communications course) or the use of tools (e.g visual arts).
This method is common when you are challenging a set of courses or a program. It may also be required to supplement either of the two above assessment methods. See the Portfolio�Tutorial for a rich set of resources and examples to guide you through the creation of a portfolio.
There are several possible results of a PLAR Assessment:
- You receive a letter grade for the course on your transcript (NC - A+)
- You receive a Credit or No Credit (CR or NCR) on your transcript
- If the semester ends and your assessment is not yet complete, an "in progress" or "I" could be entered on your record. You have several weeks from the time an "I" is entered to gather additional evidence (as necessary) or for the formal assessment to be otherwise completed.
Where do I go for help?
For assistance at any point during the PLAR process, contact:
Email email@example.com for all PLAR related inquiries or or�fill out a form to�contact us online.
Acting PLAR Coordinator
University of the Fraser Valley
Phone: 604 851 6342
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