Implementing prior learning assessment to promote adult college completion
Layne, Ashley Y.
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IMPLEMENTING PRIOR LEARNING ASSESSMENT TO PROMOTE ADULT COLLEGE COMPLETION by ASHLEY Y. LAYNE (Under the Direction of Karen E. Watkins) ABSTRACT This action research case study explored how community college leaders implement strategies to effectively diffuse prior learning assessment (PLA) practices to promote adult college completion. The three research questions guiding this study were (1) How do community college leaders effectively diffuse prior learning assessment (PLA) strategies to promote adult college completion? (2) What is learned at the individual, group, and system levels that advances theory and practice about the diffusion of PLA practices in community colleges? (3) How do an external diffusion group and lead researcher support fidelity of PLA implementation in an action research study? Through case study action research design and methodology, the researcher collaborated with six community college leaders to co-create a series interventions to support PLA implementation. The interventions are based on best practices of PLA implementation, with activities focused on three key areas, (1) faculty and staff engagement and development; (2) student outreach and support, and (3) infrastructure, policies and processes. Data from participants were gathered from action research team meetings, researcher observations, and critical incident interviews. This study used Rogers’ (2003) diffusion of innovations theory to better understand campus-based PLA implementation. Findings show that community college leaders effectively diffuse PLA strategies by (1) engaging cross-functional stakeholders; (2) disseminating knowledge to solidify institutionalization; (3) aligning the innovation to the college’s mission and vision; and (4) by implementing more structure and simplifying processes. Moreover, shared leadership supports fidelity of implementation of an action research study. Conclusions drawn from this study suggest that a diffusion of innovation model aids in the implementation of PLA. Additionally, creating a reflective, supportive and consistent holding space supported successful PLA implementation in this study.