A Phenomenological Study of Adult Learners' Experiences with the Portfolio Form of Prior Learning Assessment




Jimenez, Benjamin A.

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Adult learners face a myriad of variables throughout their educational journey. Distinguishing the need to recognize those variables where feasible, institutions of higher education began to implement ways to asses and recognize the prior learning of this population as a viable reservoir of knowledge, in many cases equivalent to that acquired in college-level courses. The portfolio form of Prior Learning Assessment offers adult learners the opportunity to demonstrate their college-level learning acquired during adulthood toward potential course credit. To date, few qualitative studies have been conducted on the perspectives and experiences of adult learners on the portfolio development process. The purpose of this study was to examine adult learners and their experiences developing portfolio(s) that are reflective of their prior learning at the college-level. A phenomenological approach provided the foundational research methodology. The theoretical framework for the proposed study was based on the concept of tacit knowledge, which is relevant to the process by which students uncover and demonstrate their prior knowledge. Experiential learning theories were incorporated for interpreting the participants’ descriptions of their experiences with the portfolio process. In-depth phenomenological interviews allowed for the depth and breadth of experiential data from which themes emerged for analysis on the meaning making participants’ discovered as a result of the portfolios. By gaining access to this insight into how the portfolio process was experienced from the learners’ perspectives we can inform and improve current practices and add to the knowledge base of adult education.



phenomenology, portfolio, prior learning assessment, adult education


Jimenez, B. A. (2015). A phenomenological study of adult learners' experiences with the portfolio form of prior learning assessment (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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