PAL Portfolio

If you are matched to the ISU DI and applied for Prior Assessed Learning (PAL), a portfolio will be required to assess your previous experience. Portfolios must be received by the Monday four weeks prior to the Pre-MNT Workshop to be considered. 

In the portfolio, you will expand on the documentation listed on the PAL application form. This includes samples of projects, reports, presentations, and professional practices that demonstrate advanced knowledge and skill in the area(s) of dietetics that you're requesting assessment for.

Retain copies of all your information as portfolios are not returned.

Portfolio elements

Each portfolio is different but each portfolio will contain the following elements:

Cover letter or transmittal letter

This letter is a short introduction to the evaluator outlining the area or areas that are covered in the portfolio. The student should list personal information, such as telephone numbers, email address, and regular mailing address in case the evaluator needs to make further contact to verify or clarify information.

Title sheet

This page includes personal data, subject area title, dietetic internship rotations to be met with PAL, date, and signature of student.

Table of contents

The table of contents should show the headings of the subdivisions of the portfolio in order to assist the evaluator in reading the portfolio. Each item listed must have an accurate page number. Be sure that the table of contents lists every item included in the portfolio.


This is a brief description of personal information, employment, military, and educational background. The resume serves as an introduction to the assessor. The resume must be typed and the maximum length should be about two pages.

Detailed autobiographical description of experience

In the narrative, the applicant communicates who he or she is. The applicant will tell something about themselves, highlighting experiences both personal and professional that exhibit growth, goals, and the reasons for seeking credit for prior learning. The applicant should incorporate significant events. This statement should be a maximum of five typewritten pages.

This should sum up the applicant's intention for earning credit through the assessment of prior learning. The applicant should be as specific as possible about that part of the internship the prior learning credit will fulfill.

The following should be included:

  • An introduction of the applicant. This should include educational and career goals, and any plans for further education after earning the undergraduate degree.

  • A description of how educational goals relate to family, work, and community life.

  • A description of the motivations for earning the undergraduate degree and completing the dietetics internship.

  • Education experience.

  • Work experience. Include if it was paid or unpaid, if it directly related or to profession of dietetics and what was learned as a result of the work experience. Link learning to ACEND® entry-level dietetic competencies.

  • Achievement to Profession. Explain the philosophy that guides your professional behavior.

  • Documentation of learned experience from primary sources. These primary sources can be projects; reports and letters from employers, clients, business partners, coworkers. These sources should document the skills and knowledge necessary to complete tasks/assignments.

  • Documentation of learned experience from secondary sources. These secondary sources can be  official forms or records such as records of promotions or performance evaluations; job descriptions; task analyses; job classifications and copies of licenses, certificates, diplomas, record of completed workshops or non-credit course.

  • Discussion of how this area of prior learning relates to the ACEND® competencies. The the narrative needs to include the subject matter for which you are seeking credit, the area of the dietetic internship rotations for which prior learning credit is requested and the job code to identify positions meeting ACEND® competencies.

  • Appendix. The appendix may include the completed PAL Application Form and documentation of learning experiences which resulted in advanced knowledge and skills but which do not really fit anywhere else in the portfolio may go here.

Portfolio tips

The following should be kept in mind while making a portfolio:

  • Typed or word-processed all materials

  • Retain copies of all materials for personal files prior to sending to Iowa State for review as materials are not returned

  • Include scenarios and reflections of staff responsibilities you have had

  • Describe how your responsibilities have increased as you have continued in your career

  • Describe how your responsibilities have built on one another

  • Share examples of client education you have created/conducted—discuss how you determined what the education consisted of

  • Share examples of staff training you have created and conducted

  • Don’t describe projects or labs or assignments you complete as part of your degree or coursework

Resources for portfolio development

For additional information in portfolio development or prior assessed learning:

  • Check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics information on lifelong learning, needs assessment, and standards of professional practice in the journal.

  • ISU Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, CELT Teaching Portfolios

  • Portfolio Development, CD-Rom, McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited, ISBN:007560025008, about $50.00, (905) 430-5000. (Although this information is designed for use by those individuals requesting college credit as applied to a degree program, the same basic information is transferable to your needs.)