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What Is a Learning Portfolio

A Learning Portfolio is an instrument used by students to petition to receive college credit. This student-prepared document outlines, in depth, the learning gained outside the college classroom and shows the relationship to college-level learning. The portfolio is not merely a study of accumulated knowledge, but rather an examination of learned life experiences discussed in essays and presented through publicly verifiable documentation. Students should prove to an expert in the field that they possess the claimed learning. This learning must reflect the theory upon which the specific situation, procedure, routine or skill is applied. Students must document the relationship between prior learning, the course objectives, and their degree program, and should discuss the theory acquired through their knowledge and experience.

Elements of the Learning Portfolio

  • Cover page: name, address, telephone number, and title of course for which equivalency is being requested. Package each subject in a separate binder since the same faculty assessor will not evaluate
    all of your courses. The exceptions are courses which are closely related such as foreign language courses in the same language.
  • Table of Contents listing all items included in the portfolio.
  • Complete course description of the course for which equivalency is being requested. The course description must be a legible photocopy from the college catalog or academic handbook. Note the effective
    date of publication of the NECC college catalog or handbook.
  • A resume or chronological record providing details of significant activities including work experience, volunteer experience, and non-formal learning.
  • Statement of educational and career goals. This short narrative identifies your educational goals, the program of study you are in, and why you selected it. Note: Your educational goals describe what you plan to know, understand and are able to do at the completion of your education plan.
  • Description of competencies, knowledge and skills. This narrative outlines your learning, explains how you acquired this knowledge and introduces the materials you are providing as evidence. This is your forum for persuading the faculty assessor that you have accumulated enough knowledge to warrant credit for the subject. This narrative should also explain how this prior learning fits into your projected degree program, your overall educational goals and your career plans. This narrative may be anywhere from three to ten pages in length, depending on the type of course involved and the requirements of the academic area.
  • A reflection paper that explains how you have benefited through development of your portfolio.
  • Documentation that you have actually acquired the learning claimed: job descriptions, performance appraisals, transcripts, samples of work, testimonials, certificates of attendance, previous credentials, awards and any other materials that document evidence of your knowledge of the assessed subject area. Label and organize the documentation in the same sequence in which it is referenced in the narrative.
  • The portfolio should be contained in one or more large three-ring binders. Your name should appear on the spine of the binder. Arrange the portfolio in sections according to the Table of Contents. Use dividers to indicate each section.
  • Sheet protectors can be used to contain each page, and are used especially to protect supporting documentation. Use binders with pockets or pocket pages to contain bulky documents and supporting material.
  • Submit 2 copies of your Portfolio to the Academic Placement & Testing Center.

The Portfolio Process

Meet with an Academic Placement & Testing Center staff member to review eligibility requirements to discuss your credentials, life learning experiences and to determine your eligibility for earning credits through Portfolio Evaluation. An adult learner may be referred to a portfolio assessor from an academic area to determine eligibility. If you are eligible, you can continue by completing a Credit for Prior Learning Application and pay the $40 administration fee and $50 per credit fee.

Complete the Steps to Putting Your Portfolio Together section of this chapter. An appropriate staff member can guide you.

Steps to Putting Your Portfolio Together

Submit two copies of your portfolio to the Academic Placement & Testing Center. One copy is returned to you at the completion of the assessment process. The second portfolio is considered an academic record for accreditation purposes therefore it cannot be returned to you. Do not include any original documents in the portfolios. An Academic Placement & Testing Center staff member will review the portfolios submitted to ensure that they contain the required sections and proper formatting. If the portfolio is adequate in all areas, it is forwarded, with a copy of your Credit through Portfolio Evaluation Form, to the appropriate academic area to be reviewed by a faculty assessor. The results are sent to you.

Receive your credits. You are notified through the mail by the Academic Placement & Testing Center of the number of credits awarded for your portfolio. Upon receipt of payment of the $50 per credit portfolio assessment fee, the credits are posted to your transcript.

Registration Steps

Registration Information Steps

  1. Complete the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Application.
  2. Submit your non-refundable $40.00 NECC Administration Fee and your $50 per credit fee online or by mailing it in.
    • Online: Pay through our Destiny One online payment system by credit card. Select the course and click the + in Enroll Now, click ADD TO CART, click CHECK OUT, and in I am a new user, type in your email and follow the prompts to complete the payment.
    • Mail-in: Mail in a money order, made payable to NECC, to Northern Essex Community College,100 Elliott St., Haverhill, MA  01830 Attn: Donna Felisberto.
  3. Once the form and payment are received, you will be contacted.

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