Faculty involved in a Prior Learning Assessment program have said working with students in this capacity has been a high point in their career. Still, institutions where PLA is not currently adopted are faced with making the case to faculty that PLA is a rewarding and legitimate academic process in driving their student’s success.
To engage faculty, be prepared to provide them answers to the following question:
- How is the academic quality and integrity maintained in the PLA program?
From this main question there are many others that need to be considered, such as:
- What types of PLA are offered?
- Which programs utilize PLA credits?
- How can PLA credits be used toward a degree?
- How is college-level learning defined & assessed?
- Whose authority reviews and awards academic credit?
The policies and practices that an institution develops for the PLA program shapes how students can use the credits, which impacts ultimately how the PLA program is successful.
Ways to engage faculty in the process include:
- Form advisory group to craft policy and practice; attends conferences; invite experts to provide overviews.
- Create venues for information- sharing across institutional constituencies; involve faculty groups in developing and vetting policies/ practices, such as crosswalks and articulations.
- Provide professional opportunities for faculty and staff, including conferences, research, and writing; encourage faculty to include PLA activities in annual reviews, and promotion/ tenure evaluations; implements incentives and areas of
Often institutions find that if they form a group of faculty to try PLA and become champions for its implementation, that other faculty engage as well. Some institutions have found engaging faculty in research projects to answer their questions an effective strategy for engagement. Some examples of research questions might be:
- Study the impact on workload
- Compare the integrity of PLA assessments and classroom assessments
- Compare persistence and completion rates of PLA and Non-PLA participants
- Create a survey to learn about perspectives, beliefs and basic knowledge; build understanding of and beliefs about PLA.
- Have faculty define college-level learning
To support institutional buy-in and to ensure the academic integrity of a PLA program, professional development is essential throughout the institution. Many offices and roles interface with the PLA process; for example, Administration, Advisors, different Student Services, Institutional Support Offices (such as enrollment management and IT), Faculty, and Faculty Evaluators.
Professional development for faculty is very critical so they that have the skills to advise and help students through the process, to understand how to integrate the learning into the curriculum, and how to assess college-level learning.
There also needs to be additional professional development for those individuals who will administer the PLA program.