Guidelines for Assessing Life Credit
In educating adult learners, we recognize that adults learn in many different ways and places with a wealth of experiences that have produced substantial knowledge and skill. Life Credit (Portfolio) assessment is a process that allows students an opportunity to earn credit for college-level learning that has taken place outside of the traditional classroom. Prior learning can be gained from many sources including:
- job experience and training
- non-credit courses
- courses taken at another college in which credits did not transfer
- workshops and seminars
- independent reading and study
- online courses
- volunteer work
- community or religious activities
- hobbies and recreational pursuits
- travel, etc.
Students become eligible to submit a learning portfolio upon official admission to an IMU degree program. The portfolio instructions provide students with the necessary information about how to evaluate their experiential learning, match the learning to a course, and how to prepare a portfolio.
Students can seek credit for prior learning for any comparable course offered at IMU. Credit for prior learning will be recommended by the dean of the school in which the student is accepted and approved by the Provost.
The maximum credit allowed through portfolio submission is 25% of the courses toward each of the degrees. Exceptions to this policy can be made only at the discretion of the President.
Preparing a portfolio of prior learning provides a significant challenge and opportunity for adult learners to examine their learning in the context of academic goals. The emphasis is on what they know not where they learned it. While many life experiences may be significant and meaningful, it is the skills and knowledge learned, not the experience, which merits academic credit. Each portfolio focuses on a single course. Therefore, if a student attempted to earn portfolio credit for Shamanism 301 and 302, he or she would submit two separate portfolios. Within the two portfolios there is likely to be similar information and documentation, but the focus of the portfolios would be on the differences between the two courses.
Students are encouraged to obtain a course syllabus from the dean of the program from which they seek credit, and they are expected to meet with the school dean online or in person prior to writing and submitting a portfolio.
The following standards, which were established by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning and adopted by IMU, are essential to the process:
- Credit should be awarded only for learning, and not for experience.
- College credit should be awarded only for college-level learning.
- Credit should be awarded only for learning that has a balance, appropriate to the subject, between theory and practical application.
- The determination of competence levels and of credit awards must be made by academic experts in the appropriate subject matter.Credit should be appropriate to the academic context in which it is accepted.
The portfolio is a formal, written document that requests credit for prior learning. Each portfolio focuses on a single course. All contents of the portfolio must be typed, organized, indexed, clear and concise. Each set of materials should include:
Name and contact information
- Introduction—A brief introduction of the student’s educational goals, including why credit is being sought by portfolio submission. The introduction provides the student an opportunity to introduce him or herself and add any additional information that might be significant.
- Narrative—A detailed learning statement that demonstrates the learning that has been achieved from life experiences. The narrative explains how and what has been learned and is the heart of the portfolio.
- Documentation—Each portfolio should include materials that support the claim of prior learning. Documentation can include, but is not limited to:
- Letters of verification from people who are or have been in a position to assess claims identified in the narrative.
- Continuing education certificates or other documentation of noncredit educational activities.
- Samples, if appropriate, of work in the area for which credit is being sought. Samples could include programs or materials obtained during training experiences, a business report, workshops that have been taken, designed and/or delivered by the student, photos, journal or newspaper articles written by or about the student, etc.
Assessment and Award of Credit
Portfolios will be reviewed by the Dean or assigned to qualified faculty members who have expertise in the subject matter of the particular portfolio. Assessors will recommend credit based upon the extent and depth of each student’s learning. After reviewing the assessors’ recommendations, the Dean will determine the amount of credit awarded.
Waiver of B.S. Degree Requirement for Graduate Admission
Students with significant life experience in the metaphysical field may request a waiver of the Bachelor’s degree for entrance into the Masters degree program. Contact the President’s office, email@example.com for more details.
Students who wish to transfer credits from an accredited institution may do so from both the undergraduate and graduate levels. However, if the transfer of credit is from a non-accredited school, or a school from outside of the United States, it may be treated as Life Credit and must be included in the portfolio.