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Janet Zellmann

School of Leadership and Professional Advancement

Rockwell 210
Phone: 724.375.3306


Ph.D., English Literature - 18th and 19th Century, Duquesne University, 1999
M.A., English and History, Slippery Rock University, 1990
B.A., English and History, Westminster College, 1986
Dr. Zellmann earned her Ph.D. in British Literature at Duquesne University and has been teaching in the School of Leadership and Professional Advancement since 2004. She teaches writing courses and introductory graduate courses, often for a military audience.
  • Adult Transition Seminar
  • English 101
  • English 102
  • Business Writing (English 315)
  • Prior Learning Assessment
  • Introduction to Graduate Studies

I'm very excited to lead the Prior Learning Assessment portfolio course each summer. Adult students who return to college often possess substantial college-level knowledge garnered either in their professional or personal lives. For example, you may have worked in a human resources department and moved through the professional ranks despite the lack of a bachelor's degree. More than likely, you have amassed a great deal of on-the-job knowledge about human resources management. We recognize that you may possess the equivalent of one or even several courses' worth of college-level learning in human resources management.

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is a process that allows students to define, organize, and document their prior college-level learning and earn course credit through a faculty evaluation process. Prior learning that may qualify for college-level credit must be conceptual as well as practical and related to subjects traditionally taught at a college or university. The focus of the process is prior learning, not merely having had an experience. Thus, if a student simply entered data on a computer in the human resources department but did not learn about human resources management in any depth, he or she should not expect to earn college credit for the experience.

In the PLA course, the instructor will help students understand what college-level learning is and will give students thorough and specific guidance as they write and revise one polished PLA narrative. In addition, classroom instruction will be given concerning college-level writing, proper format for the narrative, and appropriate portfolio documentation. You will prepare an informal autobiography or resume to help incorporate all aspects of pertinent learning and create an annotated bibliography as part of your research.

A final, polished narrative of 10-15 pages will integrate current thinking on the subject with evidence of your learning. Supporting the narrative, documentation will round out the portfolio's contents. Submission of the completed portfolio is expected by the end of the course.

To date, in the term in which they took the PLA course, students have earned 3, 6, 9, and 12 credit hours (in addition to the 3 credit hours for the PLA course itself) by challenging courses that teach information they have already acquired through practical life experiences. If you are interested in exploring prior learning, please contact me or work with your advisor to determine your eligibility.