Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Jennifer Mathes


A small college in the Midwestern United States has a prior learning assessment (PLA) program that has never been evaluated from the perspective of the faculty and staff. The problem is that campus leaders have a limited understanding of faculty and staff knowledge and their role in the PLA program. The study was approached from an appreciative perspective while exploring faculty and staff knowledge and perceptions related to PLA to address 3 research questions. The first 2 research questions were developed to better understand how faculty and staff describe their understanding of the PLA program and what they envision for the program. The final research question was a reflection of the descriptive data collected from the responses to the first 2 research questions. This formative program evaluation included an open-ended survey of 36 faculty and staff as self-selected to participate in the study from the entire faculty and staff population. Additionally, formal documents, including catalog, forms, and internet references associated with PLA were evaluated. Analysis was performed through manual methods including axial coding for the surveys, descriptive and axial coding for the formal documents, followed by thematic analysis. Faculty and staff reported that they had a limited understanding of the institution's PLA program and said they would like to have a stronger program than what they have now. Key results from the analysis indicate that the institution can improve the PLA program by clarifying the purpose, enhancing the policy supporting the program, improving processes, and further promoting the program. Positive social change can occur through the college developing improved PLA practices, thus helping to support students' education endeavors.