Target Group:  Basic BSN and RN-BSN Students

Policy Type:  Revision


To establish a mechanism for assessing, validating and evaluating prior learning in order to award course credit or exemption for undergraduate nursing courses. The portfolio provides evidence that students have acquired the content and skills through prior learning and/or practice experiences.


  1. Students may validate prior learning (academic work or professional experience) by preparing a portfolio to demonstrate acquisition of content and skills commensurate with outcomes, competencies or objectives of a specific course.
  2. The portfolio option may be used for a course(s) as long as it does not interfere with other university or school course/credit hour policies related to progression or graduation.
  3. Portfolio courses are graded as satisfactory (S) or Failure (F). Students who are successful in the portfolio process will be awarded “special credit” for the course in question through the Indiana University Special Credit process.
  4. To receive portfolio credit, students must be in good academic standing and demonstrate satisfactory progression toward degree requirements.
  5. Undergraduate students must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours on the campus awarding the degree. Courses/credits which are reviewed for portfolio credit do not count toward undergraduate residency requirements.
  6. Faculty reserve the right to determine if the student is eligible for the Portfolio alternative. This option will not be entertained when, in the faculty’s expert judgment, student learning might be compromised.
  7. The success of the portfolio depends on the students’ ability to present sufficient related materials that meet course objectives/competencies and critical learning experiences.


  1. The student is responsible for discussing the portfolio option with the nursing advisor prior to contacting the faculty teaching the course for which they are seeking portfolio review. The advisor will assist the student to identify the appropriate instructor.
  2. Complete the portfolio review form that can be obtained from the Academic Advisor.
  3. Students pursuing the portfolio option must register for the one credit hour NURS-Z480 BSN Portfolio Review for Course Substitution the semester before the course is required to be taken.
  4. During Z 480 the faculty and student will determine the feasibility of pursuing the portfolio option. Students will be informed of:
    1. the portfolio process, the required outcomes, portfolio content.
    2. the faculty role in assisting the student through the portfolio review process.
    3. the time frame for completing the portfolio, conducting the review, and making the decision to accept or deny the portfolio.
  5. Students are required to submit a completed portfolio to the assigned faculty in a three-ring binder and clearly labeled. If more than one course is involved; the documentation for each course should be bound separately.
  6. Specific documentation materials are required for portfolio validation. Additional supporting data may be provided as appropriate to the course. Required documentation includes:
    1. A cover page indicating the course for which the portfolio is prepared.
    2. Content from prior course(s), work experience and professional experience used for validation. If previous academic work is used, the following should be included: course objectives/outcomes, course content outline, assignments (including required readings), number of didactic and clinical hours and performance evaluations if course grade was pass/fail. Dates of experiences must be included.
    3. If previous work and/or professional experience is used as part, indicate how information on the vitae relates to validation of specific course objectives. Date(s) of experiences must be included. Possible experiences to consider include:
      1. Level of participation in committees (unit/department, professional, and community); level of participation in professional organizations and other activity which reflects the course outcomes.
      2. Professional development activities; e.g., workshops attended for CE credit, staff development offerings, professional organization conferences, independent study.
      3. Professional presentations, e.g., keynote, panelist, poster, etc. Indicate if data based and selection was referred.
      4. Level of participation in projects including role, specific responsibilities and funding source if applicable.
      5. Publications including information regarding data based and refereed articles.
      6. Certifications and other honors.
    4. Copies of documents that relate to philosophy, goals, objectives, job descriptions, policies, etc., may be submitted as evidence. Date(s) of experiences must be included.
    5. Letters from colleagues, administrators, supervisors and faculty documenting experiences. Date(s) of experiences must be included.
    6. A written narrative describing how all materials submitted support the achievement of the course objectives.

      NOTE: The list above does not represent an exhaustive list of acceptable documents. Students may submit other supporting evidence.
  7. The portfolio will be reviewed by content experts associated with the designated course. The individual(s) reviewing portfolio materials may request a personal interview or more materials to gather additional information.
  8. Portfolio decisions will be formally documented in the student’s record. Students who are successful in the portfolio process will be awarded “special credit” for the course in question through the Indiana University Special Credit process.
Portfolio Review:
  1. The portfolio will be reviewed by faculty with teaching expertise in the practice area(s) to be validated. The faculty will make a recommendation for approval to the Admission, Progression, Graduation (APG) committee. The process should be completed in a timely fashion.
  2. The APG committee may:
    1. Award special credit for the course petitioned based on the evidence provided.
    2. Request that the course be approved with minor additional requirements.
    3. Deny special credit because the evidence presented was not strong enough to validate course objectives/outcomes. The student will then be informed that he/she must register for and successfully complete the designated course.
    4. Require the student to register for the course or for independent credit and complete, with the assistance of the faculty, outcomes/objectives not met in the portfolio.
  3. The portfolio review decision is forwarded to the Dean of the School of Nursing.
  4. The Academic advisor will facilitate the awarding of special credit on the student’s transcript.

Effective Date:  Spring 1987

Approved by:  Admission, Progression, Graduation Committee: February 8, 2010
Approved by:  Council of Nursing Faculty: March 15, 2010

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