Materials for Teaching, Research and Policy Making



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KEY WORDS: Administrator Education; Administrators; Experiential Learning; Higher Education; Informal Education; Leadership Training; Lifelong Learning; Management Development; Mentors; Professional Development; Rural Schools.

Bowman, K., Clayton, B., Bateman, A., Knight, B., Thomson, P., Hargreaves, J., et al. (2003). Recognition of prior learning in the vocational education and training sector. Melbourne: Australian National Training Authority.


Researchers examined the factors driving and impeding effective implementation of recognition of prior learning (RPL) in Australia's vocational education and training sector. The study relied on the following data collection activities: a literature review; an environmental scan of current policies and procedures; statistical analysis of national data; 128 structured interviews with individuals from 28 registered training organizations; focus groups; and a national forum. The existence of the Australian Quality Training Framework and ongoing interest in meeting access and equity obligations and client demands emerged as key drivers of RPL. RPL appeared less useful to young people than to older individuals. Uptake of RPL among equity groups was relatively low. No single barrier was identified as significantly affecting implementation of RPL. Some students chose not to apply for it, even when eligible, because they preferred the training itself and the experience of interacting with other students. The processes for RPL were identified as one factor that might affect RPL implementation in some contexts. Other factors included awareness and understanding of RPL and perceptions of its relevance. Nine specific strategies to facilitate more effective implementation of RPL were recommended for consideration by the National Training Qualifications Council.
KEY WORDS: Access to Education; Educational Policy; Educational Research; Experiential Learning; Informal Education; Nonformal Education; Nontraditional Education; Participation; Prior Learning; Secondary Education; Student Attitudes; Student Experience; Transfer Policy; Vocational Education; Work Experience.

Breier, M. (2006). "In my case... ": The recruitment and recognition of prior informal experience in adult pedagogy. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 27(2), 173-188.


The paper explores Labour Law programs at two South African universities, using a systemic network approach to data analysis. The analysis showed that students' prior informal experience was an important determining factor to a lecturer's pedagogic style. The conclusion from this study is that student experiences can provide a useful starting point for induction into the more abstract content of professional education. Reflecting on methodology used in this study, the author emphasizes that network analysis has the potential to shade as well as illuminate prior experience. The author concludes that network analysis, as a coding framework that focuses on specific areas, can provide valuable insights for adult pedagogy.
KEY WORDS: Foreign Countries; Universities; Adult Education; Student Experience; Instructional Development; Labor Legislation; Prior Learning; Pedagogy; South Africa.

Brown, J. O. (2001). The portfolio: A reflective bridge connecting the learner, higher education, and the workplace. Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 49(2), 2-13.


Interviews with eight adult students who completed portfolios illustrate how the process increased their awareness of professional accomplishments, enabled self-discovery and empowerment, helped them recognize the influence of mentors, and fostered deeper reflection. Results show how portfolios can promote holistic learning by connecting learning, the workplace, and the academy.
KEY WORDS: Adult Learning; Education Work Relationship; Higher Education; Portfolios (Background Materials); Prior Learning; Reflective Practice.

Brown, J. O., McCrink, C., & Maybee, R. (2003, 21 Apr). What employers want: How portfolio development fosters leadership and critical thinking in the workplace. Paper presented at the "Accountability for Educational Quality: Shared Responsibility" the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), April 21-25, 20, Chicago, IL.


A study researched the impact of the portfolio development process as an instructional strategy that promotes increased critical thinking, organization, communication, and self-reflection abilities. The inquiry began with a case study of eight adult learners representative of the student population of a nontraditional undergraduate program with a portfolio component. Of 1,227 students, 348 responded to a 24-question survey using a 4-part Likert-type scale to assess students' portfolio experiences. Findings indicated, after developing a portfolio, adult students expressed a change in their understanding of their abilities and of themselves; gained learning competencies in enhancement of communication and organizational skills, a deeper reflective process, and greater understanding of how they accomplished what they did in their personal and professional lives; and better understood the role of work in their lives. Students valued the constructs of leadership/personal learning and of work-related learning, their respective survey items, and the learning obtained from engaging in the portfolio process. Findings indicated the portfolio's potential as an instructional tool to identify prior learning and engender increased competencies in many areas, including skills in organization, writing, critical thinking, and self-reflection.
KEY WORDS: Adult Learning; Adult Students; Communication Skills; Critical Thinking; Education Work Relationship; Educational Research; Employer Attitudes; Leadership; Learning Strategies; Nontraditional Education; Nontraditional Students; Portfolios; Prior Learning; Self Evaluation; Skill Development; Teaching Methods; Undergraduate Study.

Cantwell, R. H., & Scevak, J. J. (2004). Engaging university learning: The experiences of students entering university via recognition of prior industrial experience. Higher Education Research and Development, 23(2), 131-145.


In this study, the academic experiences of 33 male students from an industrial background were investigated as they completed a two-year education degree. The purpose of the study was to investigate the quality of student adjustment to an academic environment following extensive industrial training and experience. Students completed a series of questionnaires relating to learning as well as a series of open-ended questions relating to academic and social adjustment. Data indicated that while students had developed a positive learning profile, a continued belief in the structural simplicity of knowledge appeared to have a significant diminishing effect on the quality of adjustment and on the quality of learning outcomes. Open-ended responses revealed patterns of academic adjustment consistent with the restricted understanding of the nature of university learning. Implications of these data for both recognition of prior learning (RPL) entry and ongoing support are broached.
KEY WORDS: Prior Learning; Educational Environment; Adjustment (to Environment); Industrial Training; Student Adjustment; Questionnaires; Student Attitudes; Metacognition; Males; Associate Degrees.

Castle, J., & Attwood, G. (2001). Recognition of prior learning (RPL) for access or credit? Problematic issues in a university adult education department in South Africa. Studies in the Education of Adults, 33(1), 60-72.


The debate over whether recognition of prior learning (RPL) should focus on access or credit involves four issues: (1) challenges posed by the higher education environment; (2) the narrow instrumental view of curricula associated with RPL for credit; (3) the limitations of portfolios; and (4) relationship and status of different forms of knowledge.
KEY WORDS: Access to Education; Adult Education; Credits; Foreign Countries; Higher Education; Portfolios (Background Materials); Prior Learning.

Catts, R., & Chamings, D. (2006). Recognising current competencies of volunteers in emergency service organisations. Journal of Workplace Learning, 18(7-8), 451-463.


This paper explores the relationship between organisational structure and flexibility of training. The evidence was obtained by comparing six emergency service organisations. Data were collected through individual and group interviews and from document searches. The paper finds that mechanistic organisations had high levels of trust and relied on training as a means of socialising new volunteers into the norms and practices of the organisation. They required all recruits to undertake the same training and did not recognise competencies acquired outside the organisation. In contrast, those organisations with a more organic structure had more flexible training strategies and used holistic assessment to recognise current competencies that volunteers brought to their roles. The paper shows that greater flexibility in training in emergency service organisations may require change in order to build trust within a work context.
KEY WORDS: Competence; Emergency Services; Job Experience Level; Personnel Training; Volunteers; Human; Male; Female; Australia.

Childs, M., Ingham, V., & Wagner, R. (2002). Recognition of prior learning on the web--A case of Australian universities. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 42(1), 39-56.


Recognition of prior learning (RPL) information on 38 Australian universities' websites was analyzed, with the following results: (1) research on universities' use of technology for student-institution interaction was lacking; (2) terms and definitions used for RPL were inconsistent, hard to find, or required a high level of knowledge; and (3) usefulness varied widely.
KEY WORDS: Communication Problems; Credits; Foreign Countries; Higher Education; Information Seeking; Prior Learning; Universities.

Chisholm, C., & Davis, M. (2007). Analysis and evaluation of factors relating to accrediting 100% of prior experiential learning in UK work-based awards. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 32(1), 45-59.


This theoretical paper examines current practice in work-based studies where recognition of prior unaccredited work is normally limited to around 50% of the total programme. The basis of this limiting concept is challenged and consideration is given to a number of factors that have contributed to it. Comparison is made with the current practice of awarding Ph.D.s by previously published work and a model is proposed to facilitate the creation of a postgraduate work-based award completely by previously completed practice in the workplace. A number of key points are examined in relation to evaluating the model and to illuminating assessment and measurement of the previous work for 100% recognition within a work-based programme.
KEY WORDS: Experiential Learning; Prior Learning; Item Analysis; Foreign Countries; Degree Requirements; Quality Control; Evaluation Criteria; Portfolio Assessment; Evaluation Methods.

Clover, D. E., & Hall, B. L. (2000). In search of social movement learning: The growing jobs for living project. NALL Working Paper No. 18. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at: www.nall.ca.


The New Approaches to Lifelong Learning (NALL) project is a Canada-wide 5-year research initiative during which more than 70 academic and community members are working collaboratively within a framework of informal learning to address the following issues: informal computer-based learning, recognition of prior learning, informal learning in a variety of social locations, learning within marginalized or disadvantaged cultures, and learning about school-to-work transitions. The NALL project's primary objective is to identify major social barriers to integrating informal learning with formal/nonformal learning and certification and to support new program initiatives to overcome such barriers. The NALL project's focus is on the informal and nonformal learning practices of people involved with the Growing Jobs for Living Project (GJOBS) in the Quinte bioregion, located on the north shore of Lake Ontario in Canada. These learning practices are related to the principles and practices of environmental adult education, feminist adult education, and transformative learning. The global and ideational contexts of some of the major socio-environmental changes and problems that have affected the Quinte bioregion and been a catalyst for GJOBS were examined. The methods used to study the informal learning practices of GJOBS participants were reviewed. The major outcomes of the study were discussed from the standpoint of their relationship to the broader field of adult education.
KEY WORDS: Adult Learning; Certification; Education Work Relationship; Educational Environment; Educational Trends; Informal Education; Integrated Curriculum; Interpersonal Attraction; Learning Theories; Lifelong Learning; National Surveys; Nonformal Education; Prior Learning; Research Methodology; Social Change; Transformative Learning; Women's Education; Marginalized Groups.

Coats, M. (1999). Lifelong learning policy and practice: The impact of accreditation on education and training provision for adult women in the UK. In Alheit. P. et. al. (eds.) (Ed.), Lifelong learning inside and outside schools. Contributions to the Second European Conference on Lifelong Learning, Bremen, 25-27 February 1999, Collected Papers (pp. 14). Bremen: Universit├Ąt Bremen.


In the United Kingdom, these two perspectives on lifelong learning sit uneasily together: emphasis on adults in employment and a focus on diversity and widening participation in adult education. A recent emphasis on accreditation with implications for funding has affected diversity and participation objectives because involving assessment, certification, or accreditation tends to discourage participation. The major question for adult educators is how accreditation can be used appropriately to recognize achievement while still promoting learning for the most disadvantaged and disenfranchised portion of the population. Higher and further education institutions, local authority adult education departments, voluntary organizations, and training programs for women were surveyed to determine how accreditation affects provision designed specifically for women. Findings indicated a need to reconsider threshold or entry provision for women in groups that have previously been under- or un-represented in adult education and training. A longitudinal case study of how required accreditation was implemented by a women's training scheme in a rural mining area found that some valued outcomes such as personal development and growth were difficult to quantify and assess. Despite being recognized as an example of good practice in developing the potential of women and providing quality training, the local authority decided the program was not cost effective and training opportunities for other disadvantaged groups had to be given priority, an outcome indicative of the tensions of implementing lifelong learning.
KEY WORDS: Access to Education; Accreditation (Institutions); Adult Education; Developed Nations; Disadvantaged; Displaced Homemakers; Educational Certificates; Educational Finance; Employment Qualifications; Empowerment; Evaluation Problems; Females; Foreign Countries; Individual Development; Job Skills; Lifelong Learning; National Standards; Needs Assessment; Outcomes of Education; Public Policy; Reentry Students; Reentry Workers; Rural Areas; Special Needs Students; Student Certification; Student Financial Aid; Training; Transformative Learning; Women's Education.

Colardyn, D. (2001). Legitimacy of measuring. Assessment and certification of lifelong learning. Lifelong Learning in Europe, 6(2), 97-103.


Assessment of informal and nonformal learning requires resolution of three questions: how to define competencies, how to measure them, and how to ensure the legitimacy of the measure. Assessment and certification procedures must be well defined and robust, with quality assurance methods accepted by all stakeholders.
KEY WORDS: Educational Assessment; Evaluation Criteria; Evaluation Methods; Informal Education; Nonformal Education; Prior Learning.

Commander, N. E., & Valeri-Gold, M. (2001). The learning portfolio: A valuable tool for increasing metacognitive awareness. Learning Assistance Review, 6(2), 5-18.


Discusses how instructors working with at-risk students have effectively used a learning portfolio to increase metacognitive awareness. Describes the learning portfolio as a method that facilitates student participation via a self-assessment of what they have learned about learning. Appended are directions for implementing, monitoring, and evaluating a learning portfolio.
KEY WORDS: College Outcomes Assessment; Educationally Disadvantaged; Evaluation Methods; Experiential Learning; High Risk Students; Higher Education; Journal Writing; Outcomes of Education; Portfolios (Background Materials); Student Journals.

Cooper, L. (2006). 'Tools of mediation': An historical-cultural approach to RPL. In P. Andersson & J. Harris (Eds.), Re-theorising the recognition of prior learning (pp. 221-240). Leicester, UK: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education.


This chapter uses a case study on informal learning in a South African trade union to explore the role of culture in the process of knowledge transmission and learning in informal social contexts. The research is based primarily on processes of learning and forms of pedagogy and knowledge within the non-formal, collective organisational context of a trade union. The author also draws upon direct experience of educational work with trade unions and the training of community educators and development workers. It is argued that knowledge and learning are shaped by history, local context and culture and that identifying the 'totemic' logic of this particular knowledge system is needed to fully appreciate its meaning and significance.
KEY WORDS: Recognition of Prior Learning; Trade Union; Informal Education; Knowledge; Case Study; Culture; South Africa.

Cournoyer, B. R., & Stanley, M. J. (2002). The social work portfolio: Planning, assessing and documenting lifelong learning in a dynamic profession. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.


This book is designed to help social work students prepare a social work portfolio to be used as a learning guide, and following graduation, as a tool to maintain their social work licenses or other pertinent professional credentials. There are independent and collaborative group learning exercises as well as portfolio preparation exercises throughout the book. Chapter 1 introduces the social work portfolio and explores its relationship to learning. Contemporary social work practice is presented in the context of lifelong learning. Chapter 2 explores learning styles and psychological types, including multiple intelligences and emotional intelligence. Chapter 3 presents self-assessment tools to determine social work learning needs by exploring level of knowledge and expertise in content areas most relevant for contemporary social workers. Chapter 4 includes assessment tools for prior learning, general career planning guidelines, and methods to identify an ideal social work position. Resume and supplementary document preparation are discussed. Chapter 5 discusses specific learning goals and objectives and preparation of an individual learning plan. Chapter 6 presents guidelines for compilation and assessment of a portfolio with an emphasis on learning activities during an academic program of study. Suggestions are made for adaptation and use of the portfolio throughout a professional career. Appendices include: a lifelong learning questionnaire; common phases of a professional social work career; index of learning styles; self-assessment of social work knowledge survey; social work interests instrument; sample cover letter; list of action verbs for use in developing learning plans; and a social work portfolio documents checklist.

KEY WORDS: Adult Development;Professional Education; Psychological Characteristics; Questionnaires; Rating Scales; Self Evaluation; Social Work; Social Workers; Student Educational Objectives; Surveys; Theory Practice Relationship; Transfer of Training.

Dealtry, R. (2003). Issues relating to learning accreditation in corporate university management. Journal of Workplace Learning, 15(2), 80-86.


Considers the role of learning accreditation in relation to demand for quality assurance in organizational learning. Develops a four-dimensional management perspective that outlines four pathways of learning: learning needs in relation to aspirations, academic learning, learning to qualify for professional practice, and learning to sustain career and organizational objectives.
KEY WORDS: Career Development; Corporate Education; Credits; Educational Objectives; Higher Education; Personnel Management; Prior Learning; Student Certification; Quality Assurance.

Dochy, F., Moerkerke, G., & Segers, M. (1999). The effect of prior knowledge on learning in educational practice: Studies using prior knowledge state assessment. Evaluation and Research in Education, 13(3), 114-131.


Studied the use of prior knowledge state assessment for enhancing learning through a series of experiments involving college students (n=112, n=1,159, n=1,081). Results show that beginning students are especially willing to use prior knowledge state assessment and appear to benefit more from its use.
KEY WORDS: College Students; Evaluation Methods; Higher Education; Knowledge Level; Prior Learning; Self Evaluation (Individuals).

Donaldson, J. E., & Graham, S. W. (2002). Accelerated degree programs: Design and policy implications. Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 50(2), 2-13.


Suggested principles for designing accelerated degree programs for adults are provided the following components of a model of adult learning: prior experience/personal biographies psychosocial and value orientation, the connecting classroom (relating life experiences and academic learning), adult cognition, the life-world environment, and college outcomes.
KEY WORDS: Acceleration (Education); Adult Students; Cognitive Processes; Degrees (Academic); Higher Education; Outcomes of Education; Prior Learning; Program Design.

Donoghue, J., Pelletier, D., Adams, A., & Duffield, C. (2002). Recognition of prior learning as university entry criteria is successful in postgraduate nursing students. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 39(1), 54-62.


Reports a comparison of academic achievements in graduate nursing programs between those with undergraduate qualifications and those admitted using a recognition of prior learning (RPL) initiative. Results indicate that the academic achievement of the hospital-trained nurses was similar to those admitted with a formal qualification.
KEY WORDS: Academic Achievement; Comparative Analysis; Education; Graduate Study; Higher Education; Nurses; Nursing; Nursing Education; Professional Education; Qualifications.

Evans, N. E. (2000). Experiential learning around the world: Employability and the global economy. Philadelphia, PA: Taylor and Francis.


This comprehensive study explores the chronological and geographical expansion of the assessment of adult and experiential learning--known as AP(E)L--around the world. The authors describe and compare initiatives in their own countries and their effectiveness at the levels of government, educational institutions, and employment. They highlight AP(E)L's essential role in the adaptation of higher education to the competitive global market. The 11 chapters are "AP(E)L: Why? Where? How? Setting the International Scene" (Norman Evans); "Recognizing Learning Outside of Schools in the United States of America" (Morris T. Keeton); "The Evolution of AP(E)L in England" (Norman Evans); "Canada: The Story of Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition" (Deborah Blower); "France: The Story of La Validation des Acquis (Recognition of Experiential Learning" (Michel Feutrie); "Scotland: The Story of the Assessment of Prior Experiential Learning" (Norman Sharp, Fiona Reeve, Ruth Whittaker); "The Republic of Ireland: The Story of the Assessment of Prior Experiential Learning" (Denis McGrath); "The Recognition of Prior Learning in Australia: An Ambivalent Relationship with the Academy, Competency-Based Education, and the Market" (Rick Flowers, Geof Hawke); "Recognition of Prior Learning: The Promise and the Reality for New Zealanders" (Phil Ker, Mary Melrose, Maureen Reid); "Learning Assessment in South Africa" (Yunus Ballim, Rahmat Omar, Alan Ralphs); and "2000 Plus?" (Norman Evans).
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