While courses provide students with a familiar learning environment, Metropolitan State University also encourages students to seek a variety of creative learning strategies. Creative learning strategies include prior learning assessment, theory seminars, independent studies, online learning, and internships.

To explore these unique ways of learning and earning college credit, the College of Individualized Studies offers "Get Started" labs. View the "Get Started Lab (.pdf)" schedule.   

Types of Learning Strategies

Student-Directed Learning (SDL)

Students can learn university-level knowledge and skills through many resources and settings outside the university, such as work-based training and learning from work experience, community-based experiential learning, military training or service, or a student's own independent study. 

Explore Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) if you have already achieved learning comparable to university-level learning through "prior" non-credited study, training, or experiences. Faculty can assess your learning for consideration for university credit through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA). 

Consider Student-Designed Independent Study (SDIS) if you are interested in new learning in a subject area of your choice, and/or to use individualized learning methods to achieve the learning--with a faculty member as a guide.  Resources could include independent reading and online study, work/community/professionally-based training and experiences, and/or non-credit educational programs/continuing education.  You also can work with a faculty member to build new learning upon prior knowledge to prepare for assessment, either through an independent study or through a combined format of prior and new learning called a Theory Seminar.

How to Plan Student-Directed Learning (SDL) Strategies 

Individualized B.A. students will plan how to use such alternative strategies for learning and assessment in the required educational planning course to launch their programs: Perspectives 301: Educational Philosophy and Planning.

The one-credit course METR 100: Getting Credit for What You Know is offered every semester for students who want to learn more about student-directed options. The course will help you plan how to use prior learning assessment (PLA) or new student-directed learning in your program for credit--and/or for lifelong learning after graduation.  It will also help you learn how to successfully propose and complete such study and assessment.

The student-directed learning (SDL) process is proposal-based. Each student develops an individualized proposal using a questionnaire form and working with a faculty member who is a subject-matter expert.  The questionnaire builds into a document that works as a student-directed "syllabus" to follow for study and/or assessment. When the proposal is completed and approved, it is registered through the sponsoring college; these individualized strategies cannot be registered through eService online.

Assessment and evaluation of PLA and SDIS must be done by approved university faculty evaluators. Students also may ask faculty to serve as consultants in developing proposals for student-directed learning (SDL). Get a referral to a faculty evaluator by contacting a department chairperson related to your subject area, or by contacting SDL advisor Marcia Anderson.  

The registration deadline for PLA and SDIS for students using financial aid is before the date of disbursement for each semester. Students not using financial aid may register later in the semester; see the academic calendar for the date under "Last day to register for alternative learning strategies."

Other Creative Learning Formats

Students may choose other alternative learning formats, including:

  • Online Courses and "Blended/Hybrid" courses that meet face to face and include work online
  • Faculty Designed Independent Studies (FDIS)--See Creative Learning Strategies Overview under Student Services
  • Academic Internships, either department-sponsored or student-initiated--See Academic Internships

For information and support:

  • Register for the one-credit course METR 100, Getting Credit for What You Know, which is offered each semester. See Class Schedule.
  • Contact the College of Individualized Studies by calling 651-793-1772/1782, or emailing: individualized.studies@metrostate.edu.  
  • Attend a "Get Started Lab (.pdf)" on prior learning assessment (PLA) and student-directed learning (SDL).  The lab is a place to get help to identify a potential PLA/SDIS subject area, identify a prospective faculty member with whom to work, and learn how to develop the Student-Directed Learning (SDL) Questionnaire and Proposal Form.

Email your Lab RSVP to Marcia Anderson, SDL Advisor in the College of Individualized Studies. Please send your student ID number and a day phone number. Also, send your idea(s) for your subject area(s) for prior learning assessment or student-directed independent study, and if possible a draft proposal(s) in advance.

To request accommodations for a disability, call 651-793-1549 or 651-772-7687 (TTY)