PEARL 2014: University of Winnipeg RPL Services

Left to right: Mavis Lewis-Webber (Chair, MPLAN), Stephanie Rozzi, (Academic Advisor, U of W PLAR and Adult Learner Services), Colin Russell (Registrar, U of W), Barbara Read (Coordinator, U of W PLAR and Adult Learner Services).

The MPLAN PEARL Award is given for the Pursuit of Excellence in the Assessment and Recognition of prior Learning. (More about the PEARL Award)

Background for this Award

Manitoba Prior Learning Assessment Network (MPLAN) is a not for profit organisation provincial association. It is made up of those who support the recognition of prior learning. Membership includes industry, workplace, education, government and community practitioners. MPLAN was established in 1994.

In 1999, the University of Winnipeg Senate approved policies and procedures for Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) policies. Since then the U of W has made PLAR accessible across over 400 courses in the Faculties of Arts, Business and Economics, Education, Kinesiology and Science.

Pursuit of Excellence

  • As part of its commitment to university-wide implementation, the University established PLAR services in Student Services, Academic Advising:
    • to maximise the likelihood of a centralised and consistent approach to policies and procedures.
    • to provide a holistic, coordinated and seamless service for all concerned: learners, faculty and staff, the University and the community.
  • Professional development with regard to PLAR, has been implemented through internal presentations to faculty/ staff, and administrative and academic councils as well as through information sessions, workshops (e.g. Learning Outcomes: Clarifying their function) and conferences.
  • A Competency-based Portfolios initiative is underway in Executive Bachelor of Business Administration (eBBA) program whereby learners will be eligible for up to 15 credit hours based on an assessment of their extensive informal and non-formal prior learning in management positions in the workplace.
  • A learning portfolio initiative is in the developmental stages with support from the University’s administration and the Students’ Association.
  • As part of its commitment to involvement in the PLAR/RPL community, U of W has been and organisational member of MPLAN since 1999 and of CAPLA since 2000. Within MPLAN, U of W has been consistently active serving as a member of the Board of Directors in various roles continuously since joining.

Results Achieved

  • The following RPL Options have been established: Mature Access Admission, Transfer Credit, Military Training and Service and Challenge for Credit (involving Inquiry, Screening and Contract phases).
  • As of December 31, 2013 U of W has had 277 Challenge for Credit applications across 28 Departments. There has been a 96% success rate in 124 courses.
  • RPL Advising has been established as:
    • a safe way for learners to deliberate on the most expeditious way to graduate.
    • a support for faculty/staff new to RPL who need help in understanding the policy and the process and what is fair regarding an assessment as well as allowing them to learn what other staff is doing.
    • an opportunity to inform staff about flexible assessment.
    • a way of enhancing awareness and disseminating information about RPL options on campus.

In summation, after fifteen years in its pursuit of excellence as an advocate and practitioner of RPL/PLAR, the University of Winnipeg is not only achieved a unique stature among Canadian Universities due to the breadth of its RPL/PLAR coverage, but has also established itself within Manitoba as one of the pillars of our very active and vibrant RPL community.