As noted earlier, many Prior Learning students don’t have reams of Supporting Documentation available, and that is acceptable since this component of the portfolio can be bolstered by the other components.
However, you can also make up for this by generating some Supporting Documentation for your portfolio. Let’s explore two ways of generating new Supporting Documents.
Letters of Recommendation
Asking work colleagues for Letters of Recommendation is a great way to get new Supporting Documentation. Letters of Recommendation are a wonderful document, whether you have lots of documents or not. They are a way to add a voice to your portfolio that comes from someone who has seen your work expertise and skills, and can vouch for the examples you give in your Educational Narrative. They are a powerful Supporting Document that can really cement your course challenge.
You can request Letters of Recommendation from a current or former employer, a customer, a co-worker, or some other person who can provide supporting evidence for your expertise in the topic area of the course you’re challenging. The letters need not be formalized or on official letterhead, if those are a barrier to you getting them. We’ve had students use emails as letters of recommendation, and that is fine.
If you will be using Letters of Recommendation, request them as far in advance as you can. Remember, the Credit for Prior Learning process (and the whole concept of Prior Learning) can be confusing for people, so spend some time briefly explaining what the letter is for when you request it.
Usually you’ll need to include the following in your request for a letter:
- A greeting and an explanation of why you are asking this person to write you a letter
- A brief description of your participation in the Prior Learning course, including a brief explanation of what it is
- An outline of what the person’s letter should include, such as:
- A statement about their relationship to you,
- A statement about the time period of your relationship,
- A statement about the duties you performed
- An evaluation of your level of performance
- Any other comments that will support your claims
- An up-to-date résumé or any updates on your experience
Writing Procedural Documents
Another great method of generating Supporting Documentation is to write your own short documents that display the fine-grain details of your day-to-day expertise as you practice it. There may be parts of your job that are too mundane to use in the Educational Narrative, for example, but would function wonderfully as a concise Supporting Document.
For example, perhaps you helped develop an emergency exit plan for your building in the event of a fire. Not all that exciting to write about in your Narrative, perhaps, but if you wrote up a brief paragraph about this plan you helped devise, and included a photo or diagram of the plan, that would be an excellent Supporting Document for BAS 425, Creating a Culture of Safety.
But this is just one possibility. Any work you’ve done which you can describe in detail and show your expertise in the Course Objectives, can become a Supporting Document (if an official certificate or other documentation isn’t available).
Some other possibilities for writing your own procedural documents might include the items listed below, but there are many more possibilities. This is only the beginning of what you can generate!
Type up procedures you and your work team follow. These can be brief, even in outline form, but allow them to show the detailed steps you follow in a professional capacity. Procedural documents might include:
- Client intake
- Team brainstorming
- Project Development and Management documents
- Evaluation of products or processes
Workplace Protocols. Are there specific guidelines you adhere to in your work capacity, or have done in the past? Write those steps up and include a brief explanation of which Course Objectives the protocol or guidelines address.
Manuals. Many times the manuals used by a business or organization are written by the people that work there, because there was not a manual and one needed to be written. Did you write up any training documents, manuals, procedures, recruiting and interviewing material, or other types of organizational documents? Include those (or, if you know these by heart but have never recorded them on paper, do it now! Include it in your portfolio and share it at work, too).
Safety Plans or other Planning Documents such as renovations, rearrangements, org charts, business forecasts, marketing development, etc.
Meeting Agendas. Show your leadership and teamwork by including agendas for meetings you’ve led or participated in as an active member. Include an interpretive paragraph at the top to explain what Course Objectives you believe this document addresses, as well.
Workplace Photographs of idea boards, team meetings, whiteboard sessions, notes from business planning. These documents can give your reviewers a clear glimpse into your learning in the real world by showing the process of professional work.
Before and After photos of a project or innovation, with an explanation of the steps behind the change.
Write out the process you follow to encourage innovation or team building or other elements of a course you’re challenging. This can be brief, like an outline or a lesson plan.
This chapter contains material taken from “PLA 200: Introduction to Portfolio Development, Module 5, Lesson 5” by Center for the Assessment of Learning and Terry Hoffmann licensed under CC BY 4.0.