Jennifer Goff-Hawkins: The Power of Peer Review

Jennifer Goff-Hawkins, a Business and Leadership major at Marylhurst University, recently earned 30 credits through Prior Learning Assessment. She submitted  PLA essays for topics that represented her learning from her personal and professional experiences:

  • Listening
  • Small Group Communication
  • Leadership Communication
  • Health Information Management
  • Conflict Management
  • Organizational Communication
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Great Meetings
  • Strategic Listening for the Workplace

In her final PLA Reflection Essay, Jennifer shared that writing for PLA credits was a rigorous process that she found difficult, thought-provoking, and entirely rewarding.  She also commented,

The successful PLA student must be able to objectively reflect upon her life experiences, and must be able to commit to the Prior Learning Assessment process. Being a successful PLA student myself, I feel part of an elite group of uncommon individuals. I know that this is an experience that I will reflect upon for the rest of my life.

In this video Jennifer shares her experience in the PLA program – the challenges, the benefits, and also some great tips for current or future PLA participants.

Jodie Johnson: Balancing Prior and New Learning

Congratulations to Jodie Johnson, an Interdisciplinary Studies major with concentrations in Religious Studies and Human Studies, who recently completed her Prior Learning Assessment Portfolio. Jodie earned 33 credits based on knowledge she gained through both her professional and personal experiences! She wrote nine PLA essays on the following topics:

  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Business Ethics
  • Real Estate Practices
  • Solving Communication Problems with Technology
  • Listening
  • Customer Relations
  • Sales
  • Persuasion, Argumentation, Debate
  • Computer Concepts

In Jodie’s Final Reflection Statement she wrote:

After writing seven essays and against the recommendation of my instructors, I decided to take a term off from PLA. I was so excited to delve into my core classes and obtain new learning. Ultimately it did not do me any favors when I went to finish up the last two essays…My eighth essay was an incredible struggle…I had to relearn the structure of Prior Learning…I should have kept on the motivated wave of writing and finished. It is the greatest lesson I can pass along to all those interested in moving ahead in their college career with PLA.

Velda Metelmann: 67 Years of Learning

Velda Metelmann recently completed her undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, with concentrations in English Literature & Writing and Human Studies, and is now in a graduate program to earn her Masters! Congratulations, Velda!

As part of her undergraduate program, Velda earned 25 credits for the following courses through Prior Learning Assessment:

  • Effective Listening
  • Public Presentations
  • Human Emotion
  • Publications and Performance
  • Women Working for Change
  • Readings and Special Project in the Teachings of Abd’ul-Bahá

In her Final Reflection Essay, Velda talked about how writing for PLA credits increased her confidence in her writing skills, so that now a 6-8 page term paper seems like an easy task after working on a 20-25 page PLA essay. She also commented that, “My love of writing has been increased as well as my skill in the art, and I look forward to my next terms with excitement.”

In this video Velda shares her experience in the PLA program – her enthusiasm for life-long learning is infectious!

Greg Carradine: He Learned A Lot In High School (Working There!)

Greg Carradine, a Human Communication major, recently completed his 32-credit Prior Learning Assessment Portfolio — Congratulations, Greg!

Greg used his personal experiences as well as those from his professional life as a high school teacher and athletic coach to demonstrate his college-level competency for these courses:

  • Effective Listening
  • Small Group Communication
  • Conflict Management
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Planning & Facilitating Difficult Group Discussions
  • Communication of Self-Esteem
  • Team Building
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Poverty and Schooling

In his Final Reflection Essay, Greg wrote, in part, “I learned how to analyze and evaluate theoretical texts from scholarly sources and to apply this material to my own life experience.  Organizing my essays produced a continuum, and with the completion of each paper the method became smoother.”  

Stephanie Lillegard: Learning a New Way to Learn

In May 2011. Stephanie Lillegard completed her 30-credit Prior Learning Assessment portfolio. For Stephanie, it was a journey of learning.

Stephanie is an Interdisciplinary Studies major with concentrations in Human Sciences and English, Literature, and Writing. She wrote PLA essays on the following topics:

  • ED 109: Library Procedures
  • ED 114: Reference Materials
  • CCM 325: Communication of Self-Esteem
  • ILS 300: Literature for Children
  • SP 227: Nonverbal Communication
  • SP 105: Listening
  • SP 111: Public Speaking
  • PSY 222: Family and Intimate Relationships

Congrats, Stephanie, on learning a new way to learn, and on 30 credits toward your undergraduate degree!

Victoria Hurlock: Establishing a Rhythm

Victoria Hurlock recently completed her PLA Portfolio with 27 credits. Victoria’s major is Communication, and the topics she wrote for were:

  • CCM 321 Small Group Communication
  • CCM 323 Effective Listening
  • CCM 325 Communication of Self-Esteem
  • CCM 337 Gender and Communication
  • CCM 346 Conflict Management
  • COL 340 Organizational Communication
  • COL 426 Team Building
  • MSD 130 Creative Problem-Solving
  • RE 100 Introduction to Real Estate

Here is what she has to say about it all:

From the very beginning, the PLA process helped me to see how much I had learned and applied during my 20 year career. The detailed evaluative process in LRN 150 affirmed my ability to apply college level concepts in my everyday life. I was surprised to see how many credits I could have written for based on my prior training, experience, and education. I opted to write for only 27 credits.

The process itself was challenging in the beginning, but once I established a rhythm and process to follow, it became easier. It was an enriching experience and I learned a much more about each topic as I wrote each paper.

For anyone considering it, don’t let a 25-30 page paper intimidate you. There are many resources available and the staff is amazing to work with. I am so grateful for having had the opportunity to complete the PLA process at Marylhurst. I would not have had as rich of an experience without it.

Congrats, Victoria! 27 credits well-earned!

Helen Fern: Informed by Life Experience

Helen is a Human Studies major, and she earned credit through the PLA program for the following courses:

  • Introduction to Photography
  • Mushroom Identification and Taxonomy
  • Anasazi Archeology
  • Conflict Management
  • Effective Listening
  • Psychology of Loss and Grief

Three of these topics were grounded in her hobbies and avocations (she has some great mushroom recipes and some amazing photographs!). All were deeply informed by her life experience.

Christy Dirren: Validate and Celebrate

Christy Dirren, an Organizational Communications major, talks about her experiences in the Prior Learning Assessment program. Christy earned 12 credits toward her Bachelor’s degree by writing essays based on learning from her prior experiences.

The PLA topics that Christy wrote for were:

  • Managing Transitions
  • Team Building
  • Principles of Instructional Design
  • Youth Ministry 101

Christy — congratulations! This is a great accomplishment!

Angela Pernisco: An Innovator for the Next Generation

Angela Pernisco, a Psychology major, just completed her PLA portfolio for 15 credits, all in Communications topics:

  • CCM 320 Public Presentations
  • CCM 323 Effective Listening
  • CCM 324 Nonverbal Communication
  • CCM 346 Conflict Management (with the grade of “A”!)
  • CCM 356 Intercultural Communication

Angela wrote this in her final Reflection Essay:

When I began the PLA process, I thought that this journey would focus on demonstrating how my previous experiences reflected the skills that would have been taught in a classroom setting. However, this experience has been much more than that. I have learned a great deal of academic theory relating to what I’ve been practicing for years in the “real world.” . . . This process has transformed my thinking by demonstrating that there is a significant difference between academic learning and experiential learning. On-the-job training provides us the competency to complete a task, whereas academic learning provides us with a history of why we do things as we do. This additional history is what transforms us from being process-oriented participants to innovators for the next generation.

Barbara Eckroad: Tips from a Distance Student

Barbara Eckroad recently submitted her PLA Portfolio for the maximum number of credits allowed — 45! For Barbara, all of that life experience has added up — big time!

Barbara is an Interdisciplinary Studies major with concentrations in English, Literature & Writing, Media Studies, and Religious Studies. The topics she wrote for were:

  • LIT 223: Introduction to Literary Genre
  • WR 367: Writing Workshop I: Poetry
  • WR 368 & 468: Writing Workshop I & II: Short Fiction
  • LIT 329: The Novel
  • WR 312: Writing the Novel
  • SSC 210: Introduction to Hebrew Bible
  • SSC 211: Introduction to Christian Bible
  • SSC 422: Gospels
  • SPP 330: Spiritual Discernment through Writing
  • SPH 357: Existentialism
  • CCM 321: Small Group Communication
  • HST 353: History of the 1960′s
  • SPH 300: Ethics and Social Issues
  • CCM 333: Intercultural Communications