Evaluating Prior Learning Assessment Programs: A Suggested Framework

Nan Travers, Marnie Evans


Over the past two decades, American institutions have been expected to include systematic program reviews to meet accrediting standards, either by independent or governmental review agencies. Program evaluation is critical for several reasons: it provides systematic ways to assess what needs improvement or what needs changing and it provides ways to validate practices, whether to internal or external audiences (Mishra, 2007). Most program evaluative models are focused on academic programs, which don’t fit the uniqueness of prior learning assessment programs. This paper proposes an evaluative framework for prior learning assessment programs, which takes into account the type of work within prior learning assessment programs and uses program portfolios, similar to how students are asked to document their work.


The following is an essay originally published in the January 2011 issue of IRRODL, The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(1). Thank you to IRRODL Editor Terry Anderson, as well as authors Nan Travers and Marnie Evans, for granting their permission to share this resource with our readers.  (The essay can also be viewed at

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