Portfolio Development Course for Access

Recognition of Prior Learning – RPL for Access

Background Summary and Overview

This course presents a structured opportunity for mature aged students to review their prior learning, as well as their choices and plans for further study at Cornerstone Institute. The Course provides a platform for recognition of prior learning through the Portfolio Development Course for Access.

The Course is offered over 6 weeks and includes 4 online sessions, one online tutorial and 3 hours of individualised mentoring online. The first four sessions focus on the construction of a comprehensive Skills Profile and Narrative Learning History, whilst the tutorial and mentoring sessions focus on the documentation of the Learning Portfolio and preparation for assessment.

Portfolio Development Courses for Access

Aims and Objectives

Participants are able to make a more informed decision on the possibilities and consequences of studying at a Higher Education Institution.

Participants complete a written Learning Portfolio for use in applications to support access and admission into Higher Education Institutions (both Public and Private). The Learning Portfolio can also be used for promotion and developmental purposes in the working environment.

Participants are guided in their submission of a Learning Portfolio as part of their application for admission to undergraduate study at Higher Education Institutions in general and at the Cornerstone Institute in particular.

Participants are able to identify the personal adjustments and choices required to sustain a programme of study towards a qualification.

Course Structure and Content

The PDC for Access is offered over 6 weeks and includes 4 online sessions, one online tutorial and 3 hours of individualised mentoring online. The first four sessions focus on the construction of a comprehensive Skills Profile and Narrative Learning History, whilst the tutorial and mentoring sessions focus on the documentation of the Learning Portfolio and preparation for assessment.

Course introduction and initiation into the community of practice; descriptions of learning and teaching in formal education and other contexts; surfacing models of adult and experiential learning – journal writing and reflective practice.

In this session, we provide a framework for building a comprehensive and individualized Skills Profile of formal qualifications and experiential learning. The Skills Profile includes a comparative mapping of formal qualifications and experiential learning onto a framework of critical outcomes and occupational competencies associated with different fields of practice and undergraduate study.

In this session the focus turns onto the social and historical narratives through which learners articulate their knowledge and skills, and plan their future programme of study. The concepts of narrative learning theory are provided as a basis from which to visualize and commence the construction of an Autobiographical Learning History (ALH) and Goal Setting for further study and career.

In this session, the focus turns onto the process of documentation, mentoring and assessment of the Learning Portfolio. Different activities and resources are used to engage with the purpose, principles and methods of documentation and mentoring in the portfolio building process, and in the assessment of candidates for admission to their selected programme of work.

All participants will be assigned to a mentor who will guide and support them as they work to complete their Learning Portfolio for submission and assessment. Each participant is entitled to 2 hours of a mentor’s time over this period. The mentor will also make arrangements for one tutorial (approximately 2 hours in duration) for all participants in the group to discuss their progress and offer support. All Learning Portfolios must be reviewed by mentors prior to submission to the Course Coordinator for Assessment.      

The Learning Portfolio – Content
and Standards

The Learning Portfolio is divided into four sections and candidates will be assessed against the standards listed in the table below, with specific reference to the entry level requirements of the programme of study they wish to access at Cornerstone Institute:

Standards: Assessment Criteria

The portfolio is clearly titled with the candidate’s name and date of submission. The Contents Page lists each item in numerical order with page numbers inserted.

This should not be longer than 800 words and should provide: a) clear reasons for why the candidate wishes to pursue her/his chosen field of study; b) evidence that the candidate is aware of the rules and expectations for her/his chosen field of study; and c) has understood the financial and personal commitments required to complete a programme of study at the Cornerstone Institute.

The Comprehensive Skills Profile should provide a detailed record of the knowledge, skills and specific competences acquired in formal education, on non-formal training or skills courses, and work experience, community service, voluntary work or other extraordinary circumstances. The Comprehensive Skills Profile should reflect a careful mapping and analysis of the knowledge and skills that the candidate has to offer in relation to the entry-level capabilities associated with her/his chosen field of study and career.  

In this essay participants are required to provide a narrative account of significant learning experiences and events in their lives. The narrative must provide a reflective, historical and analytical account of the important milestones, influences and turning points in the development of their knowledge and skills as practitioners and learners in different occupational and social practices. The essay should be well structured, edited, and must not be longer than 2000 words.

In this section participants must include evidence to support their knowledge and skills claims in Sections 2 and 3 of their Portfolio. The selection of evidence, including certificates of prior formal or non-formal learning, must be relevant, authentic and sufficient for the purposes of an assessment panel to make their decisions. Assessors may wish to request verification of evidence and participants must be prepared to discuss and, if necessary, to defend all evidence included in their portfolios.  

Portfolios must be edited for spelling and punctuation errors and must be signed by the candidate prior to submission. Participants are required to sign and submit an electronic copy of their Learning Portfolio to the Course Coordinators on or before the specified due date. A separate letter of endorsement must also be submitted electronically by the candidate’s mentor.    

Brand Voice/ Key Messages


to change the world


on your milestones, turning points and influences in your learning and skills development

Social justice

in action through recognition of prior learning for access into Higher Education


of prior learning for access into study at a Higher Education Institution like Cornerstone Institute

programme details






Admission Requirements:

The course is for persons wanting to access Higher Education or who wish to develop and expand their professional working opportunities. Participants will have considerable years of working experience, they may have done a variety of non-formal education courses and they do not have a matric qualification, national senior certificate or equivalent.  

Cornerstone Institute
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