Assessing Essential Skills as a form of Credit for Prior Learning - Strayer University’s Innovative Journey into Virtual Assessment Centers

Concurrent Session 10

Brief Abstract

Imagine leveraging a credit for prior learning model that accelerates students’ degree pathways, reduces cost, and provides valuable feedback on essential workplace skills! This university describes their journey into the innovative world of virtual assessment centers, which has increased students’ optimism and motivation to pursue their academic and career goals. 


Jenny Yu is a Sr. Manager on the Academic Quality team at Strayer University. She helps to manage quality and operations of the Skills Advantage Program, an innovative prior learning assessment experience at Strayer, as well as serving as an administrator, assessor, and trainer for the program. Jenny also supports employability skill efforts across the organization, including professional development, curriculum and assessment design, and assessment reporting. Prior to Strayer, Jenny has worked as a K-12 math teacher, instructional designer, and online instructor, among other educational roles. Jenny has a BS in Math Education, MFA in Creative Writing, and an instructional design certificate. Jenny loves to design learning experiences and processes to support exploration, self-reflection, and well-being. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Extended Abstract

This session will share one university’s journey into transforming the once corporate assessment center concept into a transformative experience for students – impacting their career pathways by providing meaningful feedback on essential workplace skills as well as an opportunity to earn credit for demonstrating competency in these skills.  

As the cost of higher education continues to increase, alternative pathways to obtain credit for prior learning that are affordable, respectful of students’ time, and relevant to their career trajectory will be extremely impactful on student communities.  

The Skills Advantage Program allows students to earn up to 18 credits in a 1-day, 8-hour session. This can be a true game-changer! Besides the benefits of cost and time savings, students receive candid and unbiased feedback on 12 employability skills essential to the future of work. Students who have experienced this innovative offering have reported high satisfaction with the impact and relevancy of the program. They have appreciated the open and honest skills feedback that they can begin to incorporate immediately. Leveraging basic technology like virtual meeting software and a file sharing platform, the virtual assessment center emulates a “typical day at work” - allowing students to relate to the experience but also challenges them to engage with strangers in a virtual simulation. The experience is applicable to a student’s everyday life, both personally and professionally.  

This session will have three parts: 

  • Part 1: An exploration of the context of assessment centers, how they have historically been used, and how they are now being applied to higher education.  

  • Part 2: A discussion of how assessment centers can benefit students in their educational and professional journey, both through credits earned and developmental feedback. This will include outcomes from the university’s - ongoing program. 

  • Part 3: Approaches to scaling assessment centers to reach more students – Their story of agility and growth from in-person to virtual centers and beyond. 


To engage the audience, presenters will invite attendees to reflect, share, and discuss their own experiences with behavioral assessment or assessment center models, essential employability skills, and/or credit of prior learning pathways. Attendees will be invited to reimagine a blending of these models and reflect on how they can apply what they’ve learned during this session to their own work, organizations, and institutions.  

Presenters will use a storytelling approach and incorporate visual slides and micro videos to highlight the impact of this innovative program, as well as incorporating guided questions and breakout conversations amongst the attendees to allow for shared experiences to surface and possibilities to emerge. 


The audience will leave with an understanding of behavioral assessment and assessment centers, ideas for application in higher education, and ideas that may spark their own path in the world of assessment centers, assessment of employability skills, and its connections to the world of credit for prior learning.