Skip To Content

Athabasca University

What learners say...

Ryan, pre-Bachelor of Professional Arts Human Services

I wanted to let you know that I received my PLAR assessment back and was awarded the maximum 60 credits! I just wanted to say thank you for all your help along the way; for your feedback and consistently encouraging nature.

It feels weird to be completely done with it, and now that I'm just doing regular courses they seem so small and manageable! I can honestly say that this portfolio is one of the things I'm most proud of in my career so far. Thanks again.

Top ^

Sharon, pre-Bachelor of Professional Arts Human Services

I was surprised and delighted by the response of the assessors. It was very clear in their assessment of my portfolio that they reviewed my work thoroughly. It was a challenging and time consuming process but it validated mylearning curve and gave me the opportunity to reflect on my skills and my weaknesses. The comments from the assessors with regard to my work experience, my organizational skills and the comprehensive content of my portfolio were very gratifying. I was thrilled to receive 54 credits of a possible 60.There were moments when I thought I would never get the required work completed and times when I questioned whether I was on track. Thank you so much for your time and efforts on my behalf.

Top ^

Michelle, BPA Human Services

Again, thank you for this opportunity to express my thoughts on the PLAR process and perhaps encourage other students to not shy away from the work involved. For me, the rewards were many. It has reduced my course load and made completing my degree much faster than anticipated. I am also very grateful for how it has changed the way I see myself and fostered a confidence in me that is needed to carry on in my degree and future goals.

Top ^

PLAR Learner, October 2014, Exit Survey

My mentor was my rock. She really helped me through the process and kept me well informed of what was relevant and necessary to complete the PLAR experience. She was wonderful throughout and is great at what she does!!!

Top ^

PLAR Learner, September 2014, Exit Survey

Although very challenging and tedious at times, I would say that my experience was insightful and rewarding. Completing the portfolio made me realize the vast amount of skills and knowledge that I have gained over a lifetime of experiences - both work and personal.

Top ^

PLAR Learner, September 2014, Exit Survey

I was very fortunate to have 2 most excellent and qualified letter writers. It is hugely important to me to have those endorsements, and reflects a large time commitment on their part to complete the letters. I am extremely pleased with the results of this exercise. I would highly recommend it to anyone - and in fact, I have!

Top ^

PLAR Learner, February 2014, Exit Survey

This was an amazing journey of self-reflection.  It caused me to think in a different way than before about my past life experiences.  It also contributed to the work I currently do by identifying my strengths and giving me the opportunity to build upon my strengths.

Although this process took me a longer time than expected it was well worth the effort.

Top ^

PLAR Learner, January 2014, Exit Survey

Completing my PLAR portfolio was one of the most interesting, fulfilling projects I have undertaken in my academic career.  Not only did it show me how much/what type of real world learning that I have, but it gave me a very good high-level summary of my career (from start to current).  It also provided me with a high level summary of documents that support my learning.  I can now take what I have learned from my PLAR application and apply it to my career in terms of knowing how to summarize my learning, sell my skills and experience to prospective employers, and "show" prospective employers/clients what I have done.  An excellent experience overall!

Top ^

PLAR Learner, October 2013, Exit Survey

Speaking to the "learning" rather than the "doing" was challenging. Once I began to understand the overall outcomes, learning criteria and how to articulate my learning, the process became more enjoyable. My mentor was very patient and helpful throughout the entire process. I was amazed by how much "learning" I gained through 15 years or so of work experience. The part of the process that affected me the most was reading my attestors’ letters. The letters reflected my hard work, dedication to my clients and skills that I thought might have gone unnoticed.

Top ^

PLAR Learner, September 2013, Exit Survey

At times I felt very overwhelmed but eventually it all came together. When I was struggling to understand some parts I would seek clarification from my mentor and she was amazing at helping shift my perspective. I found having her there was a huge factor in the success of this process. I learned a lot about myself in many ways and am very proud of the results! Completing this PLAR has been a very encouraging factor in my educational pursuit. Thank you kindly!

Top ^

PLAR Learner, August 2013, Exit Survey

Categorizing your knowledge (Bloom's taxonomy) is by far the most time-consuming and challenging part of the entire portfolio, because you have to "disassemble" what you understand as knowledge and meticulously categorize it. This process not only takes time, but cannot be done superficially. It has to be done thoroughly if you expect to achieve a decent amount of credits. 

Building your portfolio is a great experience to measure your own knowledge and give you a perspective of what you have accomplished and where you're headed. I received invaluable feedback from a number of people. I would like to thank them for their patience...

Top ^

PLAR Learner, April 2013, Exit Survey

The learning statements present a challenge in that objectivity and perseverance are required when translating practical experience into actual learning. Digging deep to deconstruct one's learning in order to understand its theories and principles is not for the fainthearted!

This method of assessment is an intense process that essentially redefined how I view myself, my career, accomplishments, and previous learning. I had absolutely no idea how affirming and enlightening this experience would be; the letters of attestation, in particular, gave me a new perspective on my achievements and provided a wonderful sense of closure to this process, as well as encouragement for  the journey ahead. PLAR was a valuable, important part of helping me mentally segue from many years in a corporate environment to an academic setting.

Sincere thanks for making this experience available to students and for providing such exceptional assistance every step along the way.

Top ^

PLAR Learner, February 2013, Exit Survey

My mentor was a huge help to the success of my PLAR portfolio. Her feedback was always clear and I could apply it right away to my work. I found it difficult to change my way of thinking and extracting my learning to apply it to the courses outcomes. It was quite a journey where I believe I went through all the emotions possible but it was well worth it. It took a great deal of time and concentration but I did learn a lot about myself and it would have taken much longer to do the full 7 courses. I'm happy I was able to do this and my educational path is more evident to me now. Thank you!

Top ^

PLAR Learner, August 2012, Exit Survey

My experience as an AU portfolio learner has been a positive one. I have found the learning process useful and feel that when I apply for other careers I have organized work experiences and certificates to draw from as needed. I appreciate the PLAR program and would like the opportunity to encourage other students to participate.

Top ^

PLAR Learner, August 2012, Exit Survey

Overall a very good experience. My mentor (Gail Leicht) was great!! She provided constructive, useful feedback in a very timely manner - usually less than 48 hours by email. It was a good opportunity to see how my career learning can be transferred to broader elements.

Top ^

Sandra Dvorski, Bachelor of Health Administration

I am starting to see the light at the end of that long tunnel, but if I ever had an option of doing something like this again I would be very excited for the amount of learning I gained within the process.

Top ^

Jerome, pre-Bachelor of Professional Arts Human Services

I would like to thank you for your guidance through this process. I definitely learned quite a bit about myself. I was unsure about my educational future but this has given me the confidence that I am capable of making this step in my life and attaining my dream.

Top ^

PLAR Learner, June 2012, Exit Survey

Fabulous journey!

Top ^

PLAR Learner, October 2011, Exit Survey

The PLAR process is a lot of work but the journey and reflection are worth the effort. The CLA staff provided excellent guidance throughout the entire process and helped me produce the best portfolio possible. You are not alone in this process. I worked very closely with my mentor; her help and constant prodding to "dig deeper" to really understand my learning has opened my eyes to the different ways we do learn. Every day we deconstruct problems in order to construct solutions; this is where much of our learning takes place. The PLAR process helped me realize how, when and why my learning occurred and validated that in a significant way. I highly recommend the PLAR process for mid-level professionals interested if furthering their education.

Top ^

PLAR Learner, October 2011, Exit Survey

It is well presented in terms of the process but as I navigated into it, it kept unfolding like a very large onion! The mentor (Gail) was tremendous and an integral support. I found it a very relevant method for someone such as myself with a great deal of experiential learning to consolidate my experiences for credits.

I think this is a tremendous method of assessment for experiential learners as it supports that which is gained through hard work, experience and life long learning. It was a very intense experience in that most of the process was not familiar. Qualifying the learning through the learning statements, supported by the attestors was a solid means of demonstrating that the outcomes were met and got easier with time. I also felt it was very appropriate and allowed me to clearly demonstrate what knowledge and experience I had gained and how it related to the outcomes for the courses I was submitting through PLAR.

I would like to take this opportunity of thanking the Athabasca PLAR team for making this available and for refining it so it is easy to navigate, is well supported at the university and the mentorship and support was outstanding.

Top ^

PLAR Learner, October 2011, Exit Survey

Top ^

It was a much more intricate process than I could have ever imagined. I was surprised at how much I learned even if this wasn't a course. This is the hardest thing that I have ever worked for academically in my life. I don't think that anything could have prepared me for this process. I am grateful I had a great mentor who was there to encourage me. I got disappointed especially when my main attester bailed on me. She was there to push me through the writing process making me a better writer for life.

Needless to say, my experience as a portfolio learner challenged me emotionally, physically, intellectually, professionally and linguistically. It was an intense ride!

Top ^

PLAR Learner, July 2011, Exit Survey

It took a tremendous amount of dedication and hundreds of hours to produce the final product but as the months went by I felt very grateful that Athabasca made this type of learning available. The comments from my attestors were very positive and embraced this process of prior learning and assessment. Thank you everyone for supporting me on this journey and for having a program so well suited to the experiential learner.

Top ^

PLAR Learner, April 2011, Exit Survey

I received a significant amount of credit as a result of this process. I found it both challenging and rewarding. The biggest mistake I made though was underestimating the amount of work there was involved. Thank you for guiding me through this valuable process which also taught me something about myself!

Top ^

Cathie, Bachelor of Professional Arts Criminal Justice

I had constant contact with a mentor throughout the process. She helped me stay focused and not give up through the many challenges that this whole process brings. I had gained some priceless guidance from my mentor which I know helped me finally figure out what they expected in the statements. Explaining the “what, how, and why” in each statement was key. I finally got through my head what they wanted each time I wrote a statement.

I think it is imperative to mention that I will forever use this vital information whenever I am interviewed for a job, speaking with and training staff, or simply explaining things to people in everyday conversations. This is the best information that I could have taken away from this experience!

Top ^

Rebecca, Bachelor of Human Resources & Labour Relations

Creating this "memoir" has truly been a valuable and reflective exercise from a professional and personal point of view. Developing the Prior Learning and Recognition Portfolio has allowed the competencies I have developed throughout my professional career to rise to the surface of my conscious and concretely make themselves known to me. What I initially believed to be a mixed-matched accumulation of experience and skills was rather empirical evidence of acquired learning and gained abilities.

I am pleased to have completed this exercise at a stage in my life when my educational goal is to obtain my undergraduate degree from a recognized university. At this time, I am submitting my portfolio for the assessment of my prior learning with the objective of gaining credits towards the undergraduate degree I have chosen.

Top ^

PLAR Exit Survey – Anonymous

Compiling my portfolio was a great experience! I learned so much about myself. It was really empowering to realize how much experience and knowledge I had gained throughout my work and life. It is so great that AU values this type of learning.

I can't say enough about PLAR. It worked out very well for me; it has been an amazing and life-changing experience. The support from AU was excellent.

I would recommend PLAR to anyone who wishes to further their education. It is a lot of hard work, but definitely worth it, and the results are so rewarding! Being able to acquire university credit while continuing my job, and not having to move, is a great asset. It is very cost-efficient and time-saving, too.

Top ^

Darlene, Bachelor of Science, Post Diploma

The self-reflection I have had to engage in during this long and often difficult PLAR assignment has been very helpful to me. I have identified strengths and weaknesses with respect to my career and training and have been able to assess what I have learned from what I have done. It has even led me to identify areas for improvement!

Top ^

Karen, Bachelor of Professional Arts Human Services

My completed portfolio, detailing my entire learning history has again afforded an opportunity for self-reflection, self-acknowledgement and a sense of accomplishment. The confidence I have regained in my knowledge and abilities will be a driving force for me to complete my degree and continue on with my aspirations.

Top ^

PLAR Exit Survey – Anonymous

Completing the PLAR portfolio challenged me to the level that I could "feel" new pathways opening in my brain! It was terrific and terrifying at the same time. The positive, concrete and unwavering support I received from the CLA made a huge difference in my portfolio completion because there were times I was ready to say I don't think I can do this. I loved the learning and the reflecting that was a part of this process. I feel privileged to have been able to participate in this opportunity and to have my experiential learning valued to this degree.

Top ^

Connie, Bachelor of Professional Arts Human Services

I would like to say that I found the PLAR process to be extremely worthwhile for me. The availability of such a process helped me to solidify my educational goals and helped me to earn valuable credits towards completing my degree. I was very pleased and impressed that my prior experience and education were recognized and valued as I worked toward my degree. It was very gratifying to find that at the end of the process I was awarded thirty credits (out of a possible thirty). I do not want to give the impression that it was a “cake-walk” – at times I found it difficult to discern between the levels of questions asked, and found myself repeating information. I think in some cases the demonstrated levels of learning could be condensed.

I am in the fourth year of my degree at present, and feel terrific about seeing “the light at the end of the tunnel.” The PLAR process helped me to focus my goals and motivated me to finish my degree. I found the process very worthwhile, and would recommend it to any learner who has sufficient prior learning and experience.

Top ^

Kathy, Bachelor of Human Resources & Labour Relations

The PLAR experience was revealing. It opened my eyes to how much one learns through experience and informal training. Over 25 years in the workforce led me through many different occupations all with their own set of skills and knowledge requirements. After completing my portfolio, I realized the value of my life’s informal learning. This in turn helped me get a head start on my degree program. I submitted my portfolio to the evaluation committee. By receiving 21 credits for my PLAR, within a year I will have completed my degree in Human Resources and Labour Relations.

Top ^

Linda, Bachelor of Arts, English Concentration

While I found the PLAR a very specific, detailed and time-consuming procedure, it was actually a piece of luck in disguise. Essentially it offered me, a part-time student, the following five advantages: an awareness of my previously acquired skills, improved self esteem, a better understanding of university programs and related coursework, possible future planning and most importantly, university credit.

Using the PLAR procedure as an assessment tool allowed me to systematically order my formal and informal learning. Previous work experience, training and education became learning clusters and finally, actual skills. Numerous letters of attestation confirmed these skills.

These letters of attestation were most insightful. They highlighted prior learning, experience and essential skills. They also congratulated personal successes and accomplishments. The letters of attestation made me feel good about myself.

The PLAR required a review of Athabasca University courses. This review resulted in a more in-depth look at required curriculum plus it set the foundation for some long-term post-secondary planning. I was able to plan my program (and its transferability) plus my student course schedule over the next five years.

Finally, the skills and learning clusters were then paired with the AU syllabus. In several instances, it matched the course requirements. This resulted in university credit for prior learning and experience.

The PLAR assessment allowed me to save money on university coursework and to examine my hidden skills. I feel confident about those skills, my well-researched coursework and my carefully selected undergraduate degree. Thank you for well-outlined instruction in the PLAR process.

Top ^

Updated January 30 2015 by Student & Academic Services

AU, CANADA'S OPEN UNIVERSITY, is an internationally recognized leader in online and distance learning.