Recognition of Learning

A research initiative to inform policy and practice

WICHE received funding from Lumina Foundation and Strada Education Network from 2018-2020 to partner with several organizations to conduct original research and a broad landscape analysis focused on policy and practice issues related to the recognition of prior learning. The landscape analysis focuses on issues arising in the practice of the recognition of prior learning, policies that encourage or limit its adoption, and key research needs and future directions for the field. The original research completed by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) focuses on the outcomes of prior learning assessment (PLA) recipients. This work has culminated in a series of briefs, reports, and actionable toolkits that will be added on a rolling basis to website.



Learning Recognition and the Future of Higher Education – A Vision for a Post-Pandemic Learning Ecosystem

Written by: Rebecca Klein-Collins, Council for Adult and Experiential Learning and Nan Travers, SUNY Empire State College

September 10, 2020

The authors of this brief conducted conversations with several leaders of change within the higher education landscape. Drawing on these conversations, the authors suggest what a future higher education model could - and should - look like in order to reflect the realities of the changing world of work post-COVID while taking advantage of advances in technology-based tools and our growing understanding of how people learn.

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Advising and Prior Learning Assessment for Degree Completion

Written by: Alexa Wesley and Amelia Parnell of NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education

August 27, 2020

To examine the conditions around advising students about Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) and the current state of the field, NASPA conducted a research study involving video and phone interviews with practitioners in advising-related roles at institutions and a national survey of student affairs professionals. This brief shares findings and recommendations from this research.

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An Examination of Prior Learning Assessment Policy and Practice as Experienced by Academic Records Professionals and Students

Written by: Wendy Kilgore of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers

July 14, 2020

The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) surveyed member institutions to better understand institutional policies and practices related to prior learning assessment (PLA) and fielded a student survey to understand student perspectives on PLA. This brief shares findings and recommendations from this research.

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Recognizing Prior Learning in the COVID-19 Era: Helping Displaced Workers and Students One Credit at a Time

Written by: Sarah Leibrandt and Patrick Lane of WICHE and Rebecca Klein-Collins of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning

June 16, 2020

In March 2020, the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and the accompanying economic impact changed higher education in the U.S. in unprecedented ways and had severe impacts on students. This brief summarizes some of the key findings from WICHE's Recognition of Learning initiative and synthesizes recommendations from this work that practitioners and policymakers focused on postsecondary education and/or workforce development might consider as discussion moves toward recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. As this brief argues, fair and equitable recognition of prior learning is one tool among many that higher education can use during this unprecedented time to help more students and displaced workers earn valuable credentials, saving time and money in the process.

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For questions, please contact:

Sarah Leibrandt

Senior Research Analyst, Policy Analysis and Research