Study Options with Prior Learning Assessment
 The mission of the Lethbridge Community College is to meet the educational needs of adults throughout their lives.  Many of these adult learners have acquired prior learning on the job or through volunteer activities.  As increased numbers of adult learners return to post secondary education for upgrading or retraining, they request that their prior learning be recognized by the College in a formal way.  Credits granted as a result of an evaluation of learning gained from life experiences including employment, volunteer work or independent study will be applied to a particular program of studies.  These credits will assist the individual in their pursuit of an academic credential and may facilitate a career change or enhance occupational advancement. 


What is PLA?
PLA Process
PLA Course
What is PLA?

Definition:  Prior Learning Assessment is the assignment of credit for skills, knowledge or competencies that have been acquired experientially through work experience, informal education or training, self studies or volunteer activities.  In Prior Learning Assessment credit is not awarded for experience; it is awarded for learning.  While experience will provide you with learning opportunities, PLA emphasizes the documentation and/or demonstration of what has been learned.

Courses completed at other post secondary institutions may be recognized by Lethbridge Community College under the Advanced Credit policy.  As well, many courses are available for challenge; credits are awarded if the student successfully completes the Challenge Exam or demonstration.



PLA Process

Orientation Session: Whether you attend a group session or meet with the PLA Coordinator on an individual basis, access detailed information about the PLA process and review the learning outcomes of courses from your selected academic program. The PLA coordinator will determine your eligibility and assist in the decision as to whether to proceed with Prior Learning Assessment.

Contact Norma Baird-Duske, Coordinator, LCC Assessment Centre
(403) 320-3368 or [email protected]

PLA Course: Individuals requesting PLA must register in a compulsory Portfolio Development course or alternate process model. This course will assist individuals to document their work experiences, outline their skills and focus on potential matches of these skills with specific course learning outcomes. There are three steps to preparing for prior learning assessment.

Analyze: Credits are granted for what you have learned and whether that learning is equivalent to, or exceeds the knowledge, skills and other competencies as defined in the learning outcomes of post-secondary level courses. This learning may have been acquired through: Compare:  This step involves comparing your identified prior learning with the learning outcomes that have been listed for each course in your selected academic program area. These learning outcomes can be accessed through Program Description or Course Descriptions.  Note that some learning outcomes may not be available online; in this case the PLA Coordinator will provide course descriptions/learning outcomes.

Demonstrate:  The student will document or demonstrate their prior learning using any or all of the following methods:

Portfolio:  A file or folder of information documenting past experiences and the learning that has resulted from these experiences that is relevant to the courses being reviewed for credit.  See PLA Course for more information.

Standardized tests:  tests used to assess theoretical background relevant to the LCC curricula being reviewed for credit.

Skills Assessment:  demonstration of skills within a prescribed environment (lab or practicum setting) in order to assess the student's ability to meet outcome skills.

Review of Employer Based Training:  Review of private sector training programs to determine compatibility with LCC course content.

Interview, Case Study, Essay:  Specific options are identified with the course learning outcomes.  Access through the PLC Coordinator or course descriptions.

Assessment Procedure:  Once the student has completed the PLA course and submitted their assessment and/or arranged to complete alternative demonstrations of prior learning, the PLA Coordinator will act as a liaison between the student and the Program faculty.  A formal assessment request indicating the assessment proceeds.  Students should take into consideration that assessing a portfolio and arranging for tests, interviews, skills demonstrations, etc. may require considerable time.  The PLA Coordinator may be helpful in determining a reasonable timeline.

Decisions Re: PLA Requests:  Once all the assessment procedures have been completed the designated faculty evaluates the applicant's competencies and makes a decision whether or not to grant the requested credits.  The number of credits granted may differ from the number of credits requested for PLA.

Prior Learning Credits will be assigned by the Chair/Program Administrator of the program in consultation with the Registrar.  Credits will be indicated on the academic transcript using a grade of PLC (Prior Learning Credit).  The existing student appeal mechanism will be available for learners who contest unapproved Prior Learning Credits.

PLA Course

Purpose:  To help the student organize their prior learning information, determine the LCC courses and credits that match their learning and prepare for the assessment process.  The PLA Course is a requirement for all students that intend to apply for Prior Learning Credits through the PLA Process.

Objectives:  Portfolios are often used to demonstrate and document the learning you have acquired.  The PLA Course will assist the student to organize and present a portfolio that could include all or some of the following components:

Format:      a)  On Campus Course (hours, cost, time to be completed,
                                                    support or material provided, etc.)
                        b)  Distance Course

Registration Information:  Norma Baird-Duske, Coordinator, LCC Assessment Centre
                                       (403) 320-3368 or [email protected]

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can apply for Prior Learning Credits?

Any individual who has applied, and successfully been admitted to a program of studies at Lethbridge Community College.  The applicant should have been oriented to the PLA Process and be enrolled in a PLA Course before submitting their request for Prior Learning Credits.
How many credits could I potentially obtain using PLA?
If your prior learning is extensive and matches course learning outcomes to a high degree, it is possible to obtain up to 75% of the credits required for graduation from that program of studies.
How is PLA different from Advanced Credit?
PLA involves the evaluation of learning that has occurred through non formal means such as inservice workshops at work, job responsibilities or projects, conferences, volunteer activities, self directed learning projects or extensive traveling.  Advanced Credit is awarded when course credits achieved from other formal institutions of higher learning meet the criteria set out by the Registrar.  Official transcripts from the originating institution are required.
Who will assess my request for Prior Learning Credits?
Once you have completed the required strategy (portfolio, demonstration, interview, etc.) it will be assessed by a content specialist, usually the LCC instructor who teaches the course that has been requested for PLA.  Therefore, if you have requested credit for several courses there could be a number of instructors involved in the assessment process.
What is I don't agree with the credits awarded through the PLA process?
The student appeal process is available for students who do not agree with the assessment of their prior learning.  It may be possible to set up a learning contract between yourself and the instructor if you have matched the majority of a course's learning outcomes but are matching one or two of the outcomes.
How will credits be awarded through PLA be reported on my transcript?
Prior Learning Credits will be indicated on the academic transcript using a grade of PLC.  There will be no record on the transcript of any unsuccessful Prior Learning Assessment request.  A grade of PLC (Prior Learning Credit) will not enter into the calculation of your GPA.
How much does PLA cost?
An assessment fee will be calculated using the following formula:
Current base credit rate x number of credits requested for Prior Learning Assessment = PLA fee.  This is the same tuition that an on-campus student pays for a course.  What you save is the cost of books and materials, and the time that is required to complete the course as you will not be attending classes nor completing assignments and studying for tests.

The PLA Course is a three credit college level course required or students who intend to request an evaluation of their prior learning experiences. It is the current cost of a three credit course plus the cost of the text.

How long does it take for the PLA process?
To enrol in the PLA course you must have applied and been accepted into an LCC academic program.  Once you have accepted the offer of admission and feel that you have prior learning that matches your selected area of study, you should contact the PLA Coordinator at the Assessment Centre for orientation information and details for registering in the PLA Course.

Once you have organized your documentation and submitted an official request specifying the courses you want to have considered for PLA, you should allow a minimum of two months for the assessment process to be completed.

How do I get more information or register for the PLA Course?
For further information contact:

Norma Baird-Duske, Coordinator
Lethbridge Community College
Assessment Centre
Phone: (403) 320-3368
Email:  [email protected]

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