What are the requirements to enroll in IPL 305/501?

If you are an experienced learner interested in enrolling in the IPL 305/501 course, you are eligible if you have:

  • been admitted to UIS,
  • chosen a major,
  • completed 48 semester hours of credit, and
  • spoken to your advisor to determine how prior learning credit may fit into your degree requirements.  Note: Some academic programs utilize prior learning on a wider basis than others.

If you are eligible for the course, submit a Prior Learning Course Application (PDF). Once you have been approved by the instructor, the IPL staff will contact you regarding registration information.

How can I use my Prior Learning credit?

  • For UIS undergraduates, IPL 305 is primarily used to satisfy the ECCE Engagement or ECCE Elective requirements.
  • Students who began UIS prior to Fall 2007 may apply the credit toward their IPLS/AST requirement.
  • Graduate students should check with their program to see if IPL 501 credit may be applied towards their degree before enrolling.

After completion of the course and the first portfolio, students may be eligible to complete Additional Portfolios to receive additional credit. One of these portfolios may be used towards additional general education credits (e.g., the ECCE requirement not fulfilled by IPL 305 or further EXL University Requirement credit). Students may also complete Additional Portfolios through the Course Match process.

Course Match portfolios allow students to earn credit for a specific course based upon the student’s extensive prior learning experience. The course match process at UIS requires students to demonstrate equivalent skills and knowledge to the Learning Activities and Objectives outlined in the syllabus of a course offered by UIS or another accredited institution. The work is assessed by a Portfolio Review Committee who will have the authority to accept, reject, or place conditions upon acceptance of the portfolio (e.g., require the student to pursue additional learning activities). Acceptance of Course Match credit must be approved by the student’s advisor and the department through which the course is offered.

  • If you are interested to learn more about the Course Match process, or if you have other questions about Prior Learning at UIS, please contact the IPL at (217) 206-6640 or ipl@uis.edu.

Is it easy to earn credit for prior learning?

The process of receiving academic credit for prior learning experiences is quite different from that of a traditional course. Students who enjoy the portfolio process tend to be learners who prefer to initiate projects and learn in a self-directed, autonomous manner.

Since PLA recognizes the time students have already spent during their experience there is less “class time” than other courses. Students are required to reflect upon their experience, identify the new knowledge and skills attained, analyze how this learning relates to the defined Learning Goals, and clearly communicate this analysis through the portfolio. The process calls on students to use critical reasoning and writing skills that are comparable with other college-level courses.

It is important to remember that although the credit for the experiential learning process may save you time and money, its purpose is to provide a mechanism for students to use their significant personal and/or professional learning through experience to support their academic career.

How can I tell if my learning was college-level?

Defining college-level learning is a key activity of the IPL 305/501 course, but many students want to be certain that their experience will qualify them to earn credit before enrolling in the course.

In general, PLA defines college-level learning as learning that is transferable and can be applied to situations outside of the setting in which you learned it. That is to say, learning an on-the-job task that is only useful for that one purpose in that one position most likely would not qualify as college-level learning. However, if the skills involved can be applied to new situations or new roles, then it most likely would.

Another way to identify college-level learning is to find whether UIS a similar accredited higher education institution teaches a course that would result in the same learning outcomes.

The IPL Coordinator will review your Prior Learning Course Application (PDF) to assess your learning experience.

How do I demonstrate experiential learning?

Experiential learning is demonstrated by describing the concrete experiences that contributed to your learning by:

  • reflecting on those experiences,
  • describing how you learned from the experiences,
  • discussing the meaning of the experiences on both personal and global levels, and
  • describing the ways in which you have, and will, apply or use your learning in the future.

Who assesses my portfolio?

Portfolios are assessed differently depending upon how the credit is used and potentially based upon the requirements of your major. Essentially there are three models of assessment:

  • Single Reader: This is the standard for most portfolios written for ECCE or University Requirements credit. The initial portfolio is assessed by the course instructor. Additional portfolios are assessed by a different reader, normally from within the Internships and Prior Learning Services department.
  • Content Expert: Some portfolios may require a second assessor (in addition to the course instructor), who will judge the value of the experience as it relates to the particular requirement. This may be required for students seeking ECCE or University Requirement credit if the student’s major department generally requires an internship or other supervised experience.

How does PLA differ from Internships?

The primary difference between PLA and an internship is that PLA students’ learning experience has already happened. Students who take IPL 300 complete internship coursework during the same time that they undergo their learning experience. In PLA, students will reflect on their prior learning rather than describe their current learning.

In general, PLA is designed for non-traditional students who enter college after years away from school. However, the course is open to eligible students who wish to create a portfolio based upon past college-level learning experiences.

Students enrolled in academic programs that require the internship course (IPL 300) should enroll in that course during the semester they are completing the internship. If you are not sure which option is more suited to you, you should contact the PLA Program at (217) 206-6640 or ipl@uis.edu.

Are there other methods for assessing experiential learning?

PLA is the only form of prior learning assessment that can give you ECCE Engagement Credits, but other assessment methods are available for students:

  • The College Level Examination Program (CLEP), which consists of standardized tests that allow students to earn course credit. CLEP offers General and Subject Matter exams.
  • The Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) is a series of exams much like the CLEP exams and have been used for many years by military personnel. They were originally created by the U.S. Department of Defense.
  • The American Council on Education (ACE) evaluates courses offered by many large corporations, government agencies, and the military, and can recommend college credits for some courses. Check with your employer if you have taken courses through your workplace to determine if you can have them evaluated by ACE.

Students should contact an Admissions counselor to discuss their eligibility for CLEP, DANTES, and ACE.

Contact Admissions at (217) 206-4847 or toll free at (888) 977-4847.