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The Prior Learning Narrative describes the learning in detail and is often similar to a major term paper for a course. This should be several pages in length. The narrative discusses theories, concepts, and corresponding literature; and demonstrates the student’s ability to understand, reason about and/or explain problems, choices and/or decisions of the particular subject. The narrative must be well documented.

Writing a successful Prior Learning Narrative is more likely if you observe the following guidelines. Prepare a Prior Learning Narrative for each course (or group of similar courses) for which you are requesting CPL.

  1. Prepare a Chronological Outline of prior learning for which you are seeking CPL. To do so, create a table with the following headers. List everything that seems to fit under these headers.
    1. Volunteer group, organization, or sponsor
    2. Work position or title
    3. Seminar, workshop, or short course title
    4. Time spent in lecture and/or time spent in lab (active participation)
    5. Learning activities or responsibilities or topics covered (in detail)
    6. Use of learning over the past several years
    7. Bibliography – Relevant readings
    8. Documentation
  2. Read the general descriptions of the majors and minors in the UWGB Catalog to find at least one in which you think your learning fits: Review the course descriptions in the major or minor that you have selected. Select the course that seems most like your prior learning. Note: It is possible that you will have prior learning that fits in a major or minor area but that is not addressed in a current course. At this point, it may be most appropriate to seek the advice of a faculty member in the major or minor area regarding the possibility of receiving independent study credit for your prior learning.
  3. Obtain a recent copy of the course syllabus from the department or from the faculty member.
  4. After reviewing the syllabus, consider carefully several questions before proceeding: (a) Do I have this knowledge (learning/competency)?, (b) Can I prove it?, (c) Is it worth the time and energy to prove it?, and (d) How does it fit into my overall educational and professional goals?
  5. Create a Narrative Outline. When deciding the focus of the Narrative’s body, review carefully the course goals, objectives, learning outcomes, topics, and/or requirements (e.g., papers) stated in the syllabus. For each of these syllabus elements, identify key words from your Chronological Outline. The purpose of this step is to ensure that what you have learned (i.e., the information on your Chronological Outline) is clearly aligned with the material covered in the course. If the key words from your Chronological Outline are limited to only two or three topics from the course syllabus, you may want to consider looking at another course.
  6. Draft your Prior Learning Narrative. Excellent narratives are written in the first person (i.e., “I,” “me,” “mine”); have a clear, topical focus; are well organized; exhibit good writing skills; demonstrate good analysis and evaluation of the material learned; and recognize references appropriately. Remember that you are requesting credit for prior learning, not credit for prior experience. Discuss your learning throughout the process.
  7. Writing references that may prove helpful include the MLA Handbook, the Chicago Manual of Style, Harbrace College Handbook, and Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. The UWGB Writing Center offers writing assistance in the form of brief publications and personal attention.
  8. Proofread and edit the Prior Learning Narrative.
  9. Compile your annotated Bibliography, using your Chronological Outline as a reference point.
  10. Assemble your Documentation, using the suggestions that follow this section.
  11. When your Portfolio is complete, forward it to the Coordinator of Testing Services.