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Prior Learning Assessment Development

Prior Learning Assessment Development

For many colleges, assessing prior learning is a not a simple task.  It’s not enough to look at a learner’s work history and practical experience.  Prior learning assessments (PLAs) require careful mapping of the learner’s documented skills to course competencies.

In 2018, the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and the Worldwide Instructional Design System (WIDS) completed a project to create statewide prior learning assessments (PLAs). The project allows military medics to gain Credit for Prior (CPL) Learning in the WTCS associate degree nursing program. Military medics now have a pathway at all WTCS colleges to fast track their education to the second year of the nursing program. The project included competency-based challenge exams and curriculum development to maximize CPL.  With federal funding from a TAACCCT IV grant, a system-wide team of WTCS nursing faculty and a WIDS Learning Design Consultant created the first statewide pathway with common PLAs to be used at all WTCS colleges. 

Pathway Curriculum Development: Maximizing Credit for Prior Learning

The project team started by mapping military medic training documentation to the first-year nursing program and the Nursing Assistant course (a common pre-requisite for nursing program entry).  Curriculum elements met through prior military training were removed, and remaining curriculum was combined to create a curriculum pathway consisting of five theory courses and one clinical practicum course. The pathway offers a ten-credit reduction for military medic veterans. And because theory courses will be self-paced online classes, the pathway meets the flexibility requested by the veteran population.

Prior Learning Assessment Development: Course Competency-based Challenge Exams

Establishing Common Development Criteria

The competency-based course challenge exam creation is a key element of this project.  To design consistent assessments for the five courses, the team collaborated in a facilitated design process to create common challenge exam development criteria.  These criteria helped focus the team as they worked in small groups to create assessments.

Facilitating PLA Design and Capturing PLA information in WIDS

WIDS consultants value the collaborative curriculum design process. Read more about the process used in this project and download two free valuable resources – Prior Learning Assessment: Facilitating Collaboration and Prior Learning Assessment: Challenge Exam PAT.

Contact WIDS to learn more about our consulting services and software for designing, aligning, and managing curriculum.

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