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Prior Learning Assessment for ENGL& 101

English Department PLA Coordinator: Lawrence White, ext. 4017,


To get Prior Learning Credit for English 101, you must demonstrate your ability to produce a collection of writing that meets the requirements of a portfolio for English 101. Please see the Portfolio Scoring Guide for clarification.

Steps to Complete

  1. Ensure that you have a viable portfolio by discussing the materials that you possess with the English Department PLA Coordinator. See the components of this portfolio below. Incomplete portfolios will not be considered.
  2. If the English Department PLA Coordinator feels that you have sufficient material and stand a good chance of demonstrating prior learning, then you should contact the college PLA coordinator to complete the paper work and make the payment for PLA.
  3. Wait for the English department to judge the portfolio (one week).
  4. If your portfolio passes, you will be granted credit and a decimal grade for English 101.

Components of the Portfolio (4 pieces)

  1. A cover letter explaining to the reviewers why the work you have submitted meets the objectives for English 101 (see the ENGL 101 Course Outcomes and portfolio scoring guide).
  • Address your letter to the English Dept. faculty who will be evaluating your portfolio. Refer to English101 goals and outcomes, relating them to the samples you have included in the portfolio.
  • Your letter should clearly explain the assignments for the two essays that you include (and include assignment directions if you have them). The reader of the portfolio will need to understand what writing context and specific task each of your essays responds to.
  • This letter should also explain the specific process you went through in thinking about and writing at least one of the pieces in your portfolio. We are not looking for a step-by-step list, such as "First, I brainstormed, then I did a rough draft . . ." Rather, we want to know about your intellectual journey and the rhetorical and/or aesthetic decisions you had to make while composing.
  1. Two revised essays that you have written from college, or employment work. See below for choices.
  2. A proctored essay exam set up by the English department that will demonstrate you understand and respond to an idea you read from another writer, offering your own idea in the form of an organized thesis/support essay
  3. Peer Response: In addition to the above items, you will be asked (on site and in-person) to read a draft of a student paper and write a letter to the writer of the draft that identifies and explains what you consider to be the strengths of the paper (what works for you and why) and the areas that are in need of further work. You will be asked to offer specific suggestions for how the writer might improve this paper in terms of both its ideas and presentation (minimum of 1 page).

*The cover letter and the two revised essays must be typed.

* Please include your address and a daytime telephone number (and email address) in your letter in case we need to contact you.

Essays to Include in Your Portfolio

Both essay samples that you include in the portfolio should demonstrate your ability to develop an idea over three or more pages (750 words or more).

Both should indicate your ability to organize and support your ideas with awareness of an audience's needs.

The samples you include should demonstrate two different kinds of writing.  For example, if you had a year of community college, then a year of employment, you could elect to submit a narrative essay done in community college and a proposal done in a corporate setting as an example of a persuasive piece.

Different types of writing to consider including:

  • An essay that demonstrates you know how to formulate and develop a critical perspective on some issue or topic. In this essay, you construct a thoughtful idea or assertion about your subject and then you flesh out your controlling idea in some depth, providing adequate evidence or detail.
  • An analysis or assessment of a single text, such as a piece of literature, a scientific article, or media event.
  • A research paper in which you develop an original thesis (as opposed to just finding some argument to support an already established or "ready-made" point of view).
  • A personal narrative or autobiography, a reflective essay, or piece of feature writing
  • A summary and personal response to a critical essay.
  • An analysis paper that demonstrates your ability to develop your own perspective on an issue, using thinking skills and your awareness of other perspectives.

Assurance of Portfolio Integrity

You are not only responsible for persuading us that you can write well, but you must also persuade us that you actually wrote the papers contained in the portfolio you submit. When you turn in your portfolio, you will be required to:

  • Submit a statement that all submitted work is your own.
  • Include all prior drafts wherever possible
  • You are also advised to include, where possible,
    • Original copies (not photocopies) of essays submitted to other teachers with the teachers' actual marks and comments on them.
    • Letters from teachers or others for whom the papers were originally written, confirming that you wrote them.
    • Any other evidence that will help assure us that what we are reading is your own writing.

Note: If we have any reason to doubt the integrity of any a particular portfolio, we will simply award a grade of UNSCOREABLE and require you to take English 101.

Scoring Procedure

Your portfolio and essay will be read by English Dept. Faculty in accordance with scoring criteria determined by the English Department. In order to successfully get Prior Learning Credit, the portfolio must pass based on the Exit Portfolio Scoring Guide. Incomplete portfolios will not receive a score. You must turn in a complete portfolio to be considered for PLA.

If You Have Questions

Contact the PLA Coordinator, Lawrence White at ext. 4017 or if you have questions about the PLA process.