Learning Descriptions

The learning description introduces the student’s learning and sets the context for the evaluation process.

Students provide a learning description for each prior learning request. This learning description is an overview that:

  • identifies the college-level learning
  • describes how the learning was acquired
  • proposes a title, credit amount and designations of level and type of learning.

The learning description is an introduction to the student's learning. It is not a complete description of what the student knows, giving you a starting point for your interview.

The evaluator develops a more complete picture of the student's learning through the combination of the learning description, supporting materials and an interview. Many evaluators use the learning description to formulate questions or topics to cover in the interview.


The format of the learning description is often an essay, but students have the opportunity to submit the description using other formats. For example, a student could submit a video, e-portfolio, concept maps, or other media formats, as long as it successfully introduces the student's knowledge.

Some centers have specific learning description formats.

If you have questions check with an assessment specialist at your center.

Locating the Learning Description

Access the student’s learning description through PLA Planner.

A link labeled, "Learning Essay," is located in the lower left-hand corner of the request screen. The learning description will be an attachment.

Note: If you plan to make notes for your use directly in the attachment, you will need to first save it to your computer.