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  1. The enrolled student assesses whether the option for obtaining credit by portfolio assessment is appropriate to pursue. The student considers the academic intent of this option, the academic expectations in constructing a portfolio of prior learning, and the petition process for obtaining credit by portfolio assessment. The student should consult with an academic adviser as appropriate.

    Information on credit by portfolio assessment purposes, availability, and processes is to be made available to students, advisers, and academic units through collaborative efforts of the Undergraduate Admissions Office, Division of Undergraduate Studies, Center for Adult Learner Services, and Distance Education. Access to this information is to be made available via websites for each of these offices. Advisers will provide guidance on the steps necessary to construct a portfolio providing evidence of prior learning that meets academic quality expectations.

    The information about credit by portfolio assessment provided to the academic community is to address:

    • how students are to be informed and guided in these opportunities
    • what courses are approved by the department for the awarding of credit by portfolio assessment and how exceptions may be negotiated with the appropriate academic unit
    • how the student petitions for credit by portfolio assessment
    • what fees are involved and how they are paid
    • how, in general terms, a portfolio is assembled and presented to the academic unit
    • how the portfolio(s) is assessed by faculty in terms of course learning equivalencies and how the academic unit requests the admissions office to enter credits for specific courses on the student's transcript
  2. Students may explore opportunities for obtaining credit by portfolio assessment directly with departments offering courses. The Undergraduate Admissions Office will maintain listings of courses approved by academic units to receive petitions for awarding credit by portfolio assessment.

    A course may be listed as eligible for credit by portfolio assessment under one of two types: a) the typical case where the student's portfolio of evidence is unique in its content, construction, and justification; or b) special cases where evidence of prior learning relative to standards for the course has been previously validated by the academic unit in collaboration with the admissions office. Assessment services provided by faculty in the first case are substantial; in the second case, assessment services are more related to certifying the student's externally validated learning. Different fees may exist for the different assessment services provided.

  3. The student uses a credit-by-portfolio registration form to petition the academic unit for credit by portfolio assessment for a specific course or courses. A receipt of payment of appropriate fees is provided by the Bursar's Office and should accompany the petition. The acceptance of the petition and receipt of fee payment, in effect, registers the student for the awarding of credit by portfolio assessment in this course or courses.
  4. Two types of limitations are placed on the awarding of credit by portfolio assessment. One is a limit on the total number of credits that may be earned by an individual student via credit by portfolio assessment: a candidate for an associate degree may be awarded a maximum of 15 credits; a candidate for a baccalaureate degree may be awarded a maximum of 30 credits by portfolio assessment. The second limitation relates to the total number of credits that may be awarded for a single portfolio and course: a maximum of 6 credits may be awarded for a single portfolio for a course.
  5. The student compiles the portfolio within the guidelines established by the academic unit and submits the portfolio to the academic unit for assessment. The unit designates a faculty member or committee to conduct the portfolio assessment.
  6. Faculty assess the portfolio and determine whether credit is to be awarded. Academic standards in assessing the amount and quality of learning demonstrated by a portfolio are to be equivalent to the learning expected in the course when credit is acquired via instruction.

    No grades are assigned to credits awarded by portfolio assessment. Ordinarily, no partial credit for a course is to be awarded by portfolio assessment. Normally, the assessment is to be completed within a thirty-day period.

    In cases where the faculty determination is that no credit is to be awarded on the basis of the portfolio content presented, the faculty may elect to identify certain additional evidence or outline a restructuring of the presented evidence that, if provided, would likely change the assessment conclusion. This information should be conveyed by the assessor to the student via the academic unit head.

    A summary of the assessment outcome is provided by the faculty on the credit-by-portfolio registration form and is returned, along with the portfolio, to the academic unit head.

  7. If credit is to be awarded, the academic unit head forwards the credit-by-portfolio registration form to the admissions office and requests that the appropriate credits be entered on the student's academic record. The entry will record the course and credits assigned. The credits will be designated on the transcript as "Credits Awarded by Portfolio Assessment."

    The student is notified when the credits are awarded.

    Note: Credit(s) earned by portfolio assessment will be posted to the student's record but will not appear on the student's official transcript until the student has completed a credit-bearing course at Penn State.

  8. If no credit is to be awarded, the academic unit head reviews the assessment and informs the student submitting the petition of the outcome.

    No entry is made on the student's transcript when no credits are awarded.

    In cases where faculty have identified minor adjustments in the portfolio content or structure that, if made and the portfolio reassessed, the determination would likely be to award credits, this option may be discussed with the student. The student may elect to make adjustments to the portfolio and resubmit it for reassessment. No additional fee is to be charged for such a reassessment.

    If the original faculty assessment is that the portfolio fails in major ways to exhibit sufficient evidence of learning at the level and of the quality expected for the course, the student may elect to start over by constructing a new portfolio, filing a new petition, paying the appropriate fees, and submitting the new portfolio for assessment.

Senate Policy:  42-97, Credit by Portfolio Assessment

Financial Procedure:  AM2009, Credit by Portfolio Assessment

Application form:  Credit by Portfolio Assessment Application

Application form (Commonwealth College only):  Credit by Portfolio Assessment Application

Undergraduate Advising Handbook: Credit by Portfolio Assessment

Approved: ACUE (8-7-97)
Revised: Provost Brighton (6-99) Revised: ACUE (3-14-13)