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Credit for Experiential Learning

UW-Parkside students have the opportunity to seek credit based on experience, through a rigorous portfolio and evaluation process. This process is grounded in the departmental evaluation of the portfolio, in which the student describes the learning that derives from experience.

Any UW-Parkside student who can demonstrate learning that is derived from experience equivalent to college level learning may be able to apply that learning toward degree credit. The Credit for Experiential Learning (CEL) process requires that the learning be related to specific courses or areas of study at UW-Parkside. The learning must be based on experience in employment, volunteer activities, workshop/seminar participation, and/or publications. Credit is given for learning acquired as a result of the experience(s), not for the experience itself. The required portfolio process takes time and effort. Experience has shown that most students spend from three to six months preparing portfolios for faculty review.

CEL at UW-Parkside is determined through individual assessment. Academic departments use the portfolio process to decide whether a student should receive credit for experiential learning, how much credit, and whether credit is toward general education, major, or general electives. A maximum of 30 credits can be awarded.

The CEL Portfolio is a collection of written evidence that supports the student's claim of experiential learning. Faculty may interview students and/or administer examinations when additional information is needed to substantiate the request. The portfolio should contain two major components: a CEL Narrative and accompanying documentation.

The CEL Narrative describes the learning in detail and is similar in terms of effort to a major term paper for a course. The narrative discusses theories, concepts, and corresponding literature. The student must also demonstrate ability to understand, reason about and/or explain problems, choices and/or decisions in the particular subject. The narrative must be well-documented.

Documentation reflects familiarity with theories of the academic discipline that are central to the experience and supports the experiential statements in the narrative. At least one letter from a present/past direct supervisor is required. Other documentation may include certificates of workshop/seminar completion, and any other verifiable information that substantiates claims made in the narrative.

Academic departments determine the awarding of CEL based on their own judgment as to what level of learning is acceptable. Each course request is evaluated by a faculty member qualified in that area. It is then approved by the department chair and dean.

Students interested in pursuing the CEL process should study the statements on CEL Policies, CEL Procedures and the CEL Portfolio.

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