Credit by Portfolio

Evaluating Prior Learning Portfolios: A Guide

The development of a portfolio for option two is a rigorous process that requires students to document learning—theoretical and practical—equivalent to a specific Penn State communicatons course.


  • Before preparing the portfolio, World Campus students should meet with Michelle Baker (mkd155) and University Park students should meet with Jamey Perry (jrp5). This meeting is in part to decide if the credit by portfolio process is appropriate, to determine which course(s) is appropriate, and to review the process, clarify objectives, requirements, and expectations.
  • Portfolios will not be accepted during the semester of intended graduation.
  • Portfolio and “Credit by Portfolio Assessment Application” is brought to the Campus Bursar Office for payment of the nonrefundable portfolio fee ($390 per portfolio).
  • Bursar Office enters the payment in the “fee paid” block and signs the form where indicated.
  • World Campus students submit the form to Michelle Baker ( and University Park students submit the form to Jamey Perry (
  • After review, and in consultation with the appropriate department head and/or faculty, Baker or Perry forwards the portfolio and Credit by Portfolio Assessment Application to the Associate Dean. Signatures of the department head or faculty reviewer, Baker or Perry, and Associate Dean indicate approval of the portfolio.
  • Student will be notified of approval or lack thereof within 8 weeks of faculty receipt of the portfolio. Adhering to this timeline will allow students to meet their intended timeline for graduation, particularly if a portfolio is not approved for credit.

Students are allowed a maximum of two opportunities to prove learning—(1) through the original portfolio submission and (2) one additional submission if additional information or revisions are requested by faculty upon the first review.

Portfolio Standards

  • Does the portfolio document learning, not just experience?
  • Is the learning at the appropriate level?
  • Is there a balance between theoretical learning and practical application?
  • Is the learning equivalent to a Penn State course?
  • Is there sufficient evidence that this learning does not duplicate credit already awarded?

Demonstration of Educational Objectives (Bloom 1956)

The following categories illustrate the different categories that demonstrate learning has taken place. Take some time to review these categories and think about the ways your experience encompasses them. You may want look over the list of verbs in each category that suggest what you’ve accomplished through your experience. Use them as prompts to help you show clearly that learning – and what kind of learning – has taken place.

  • Knowledge of terminology; specific facts; ways and means of dealing with specifics (conventions, trends and sequences, classifications and categories, criteria, methodology); universals and abstractions in a field (principles and generalizations, theories and structures): Knowledge is (here) defined as the remembering (recalling) of appropriate, previously learned information.
    defines; describes; enumerates; identifies; labels; lists; matches; names; reads; records; reproduces; selects; states; views.
  • Comprehension: Grasping (understanding) the meaning of informational materials.
    classifies; cites; converts; describes; discusses; estimates; explains; generalizes; gives examples; makes sense out of; paraphrases; restates (in own words); summarizes; traces; understands.
  • Application: The use of previously learned information in new and concrete situations to solve problems that have single or best answers.
    acts; administers; articulates; assesses; charts; collects; computes; constructs; contributes; controls; determines; develops; discovers; establishes; extends; implements; includes; informs; instructs; operationalizes; participates; predicts; prepares; preserves; produces; projects; provides; relates; reports; shows; solves; teaches; transfers; uses; utilizes.
  • Analysis: The breaking down of informational materials into their component parts, examining (and trying to understand the organizational structure of) such information to develop divergent conclusions by identifying motives or causes, making inferences, and/or finding evidence to support generalizations.
    breaks down; correlates; diagrams; differentiates; discriminates; distinguishes; focuses; illustrates; infers; limits; outlines; points out; prioritizes; recognizes; separates; subdivides.
  • Synthesis: Creatively or divergently applying prior knowledge and skills to produce a new or original whole.
    adapts; anticipates; categorizes; collaborates; combines; communicates; compares; compiles; composes; contrasts; creates; designs; devises; expresses; facilitates; formulates; generates; incorporates; individualizes; initiates; integrates; intervenes; models; modifies; negotiates; plans; progresses; rearranges; reconstructs; reinforces; reorganizes; revises; structures; substitutes; validates.
  • Evaluation: Judging the value of material based on personal values/opinions, resulting in an end product, with a given purpose, without real right or wrong answers
    appraises; compares & contrasts; concludes; criticizes; critiques; decides; defends; interprets; judges; justifies; reframes; supports.