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Prior Learning Assessment

The Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition or Challenge for Credit process at UWinnipeg is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your knowledge and skills that may result in you being eligible to receive credit toward your degree.

If you want to explore this option further, please contact the Coordinator/Advisor of Adult Learner Services and RPL. She will help you to evaluate your prior learning, discuss your educational goals, and identify courses you may wish to challenge for credit.    

What is PLAR?

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition is a 'Challenge for University Credit' process. Admitted University of Winnipeg students have the option to identify, demonstrate and gain recognition for what they already know and can do. It allows learners to obtain credit for university-level knowledge and skills gained outside the classroom and/or through other educational programs. PLAR uses valid, rigorous assessment methods which follow university policies and procedures to ensure that learning worthy of credit has taken place. Refer to PLAR Information Sheet [PDF] for examples of assessment methods, numbers of successful candidates, examples of courses and departments with PLAR activity.   

Who should apply for PLAR?

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PLAR is for adult learners who have significant learning through work and life experiences which may be equivalent to university courses. Learners should be able to apply learning acquired in different situations and places of work. The learning should be current, relevant to the course and of sufficient breadth and depth to ensure university level learning. The PLAR Policy [PDF] was approved by the University of Winnipeg Senate in September of 1999 as an expanded Challenge for Credit program. It is described in the Academic Calendar under Regulations and Policies #6. Recognition of Prior Learning, a. Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition - Challenge for Credit.  Go to PLAR Dept-Courses [PDF] for a list of departments and courses that have participated in PLAR thus far. You are welcome to challenge for credit an eligible course that is not listed. 

What are the benefits of PLAR?

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To the Learner:   See what PLAR candidates say [PDF]

  • encourages learners to pursue education by increasing access
  • validates appropriate learning gained through work and life experiences
  • decreases duplication of learning
  • identifies areas of competence and areas requiring further study
  • increases self-esteem
  • may reduce the time and expense to acquire a credential    

To the Faculty:

  • furthers the development of adult learning and teaching practices
  • broadens understanding of assessment and evaluation
  • increases knowledge of PLAR processes through professional development opportunities
  • maintains currency of theory    

To the University:    

  • increases student recruitment and retention
  • enhances the image of the institution (i.e. flexible and responsive to change)
  • allows for more appropriate learner placement in programs
  • increases accessibility to a broad range of learners
  • provides an important service for the community and business    

What is the process?

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A potential applicant for PLAR weighs his/her knowledge against course descriptions and learning outcomes to determine whether or not to challenge the course. Once completed, the Application for Challenge for Credit is sent to the Course Instructor and Department Chair. If the instructor is willing to become involved in the PLAR process, the student then meets with him/her to discuss whether or not it is feasible to continue. The Assessment Agreement form, which identifies assessment methods and time lines, is completed by both. (Methods of assessing prior learning may include one or more of the following: written/oral exams, projects, assignments, interviews, skill demonstration, or portfolio review. Some methods may be more suitable to a particular course than to others.) When the student completes all agreed-upon work, the instructor fills out an Assessment Evaluation form and grade register and forwards both to the Examinations Assistant in Student Services. For more information review the section below.    

How do I apply for PLAR?

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Contact the Academic Advisor of RPL:    
  • to discuss whether your informal, non-formal or formal learning [PDF] matches any University of Winnipeg course descriptions [PDF] and whether you would like to continue with the PLAR process
  • to ensure that you are admitted to the University and the course(s) you wish to PLAR work toward your degree   

You need to put in writing your intent to pursue PLAR    

  • download and complete the Application for Challenge for Credit [PDF] form or
  • submit a letter or email to the Coordinator of PLAR providing a detailed summary of the reasons you think you may qualify for credit in the course - please review the Application for Challenge for Credit link above for more details    

Then what?    

  • the Coordinator/Advisor of RPL contacts both the department chair and the course instructor to inform them of your request for PLAR
  • if the course instructor is able to proceed with your request, the Coordinator/Advisor of RPL will arrange for you to meet, call or email the Instructor directly to discuss the feasibility of PLAR
  • when you contact the course instructor you will describe in detail your relevant learning experience and the instructor will describe in more detail the course curriculum and his/her expectations  

If you and the instructor agree to proceed with PLAR:    

  • download and complete the Assessment Agreement Form [PDF] in consultation with the course instructor
  • the course instructor and the student agree on the method(s) of assessment that is expected and when the work is to be completed
  • you must sign the form and have the course instructor and department chair sign as well
  • the completed form should be forwarded to the Coordinator/Advisor of PLAR along with the course fee payment (1/2 the regular tuition fee, includes the registration and student life fees) - for PLAR tuition payment options, please email the Coordinator/Advisor of RPL
  • you will be registered for the course by Student Records and a grade register will be sent to the course instructor    

Once you have completed the course work:    

  • and the assessment of the course material/exam is done, the course instructor will complete the Assessment Evaluation form, along with the grade register
  • the course instructor will submit the grade register and the Assessment Evaluation form to Student Records
  • the Assessment Evaluation form will be filed in your student file, a copy kept in the PLAR files   

How many credits can I obtain through PLAR?

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You are allowed a maximum of 30 credit hours of courses using RPL/PLAR toward an undergraduate degree in the Faculties of Arts, Business & Economics, Education, Kinesiology and Applied Health and Science.

How is credit granted for PLAR?

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  • if you are successful, a grade of 'S' (Standing) is assigned to the course and will appear on your transcript.
  • the course classification will be coded as 'PLAR'
  • if you are unsuccessful, a grade is not assigned to the course and it will not show up on your transcript

Please note that PLAR credits do not fulfil the University of Winnipeg residency requirements, they are included in the total number of credits that you can transfer into your degree.    

If I am unsuccessful at obtaining credit can I try again?

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  • you may attempt to PLAR one more time after a six month period but only if you can demonstrate additional learning
  • the course instructor may inform you of areas where learning is inadequate and may be able to recommend ways to acquire or demonstrate the additional learning    

If I am successful at obtaining credit, what next?

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Select courses to complete your University of Winnipeg Degree! Contact the Academic Advisor, Adult Learners and RPL to assist with degree planning.