Materials for Teaching, Research and Policy Making

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KEY WORDS: Agricultural Occupations; Case Studies; Community Services; Competence; Competency Based Education; Definitions; Delivery Systems; Education Work Relationship; Evaluation Methods; Hospitality Occupations; Prior Learning; School Business Relationship; Student Evaluation; Success; Technical Institutes; Trade and Industrial Education.

Morais, A., Lior, K., & Martin, D. A. (2001). Revolution of experiences: Evolution of the skills and knowledge profile. NALL Working Paper No. 34. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at:

The Skills and Knowledge Profile (SKP) is a tool developed in Canada to document learning styles and strategies of adult learners. The instrument was developed as a systematic approach to capturing the learning styles of unemployed and employed adults across sectors. It is made up of these six sections: (1) Learning Access and Personal Information; (2) Personal Informal Learning; (3) Job-Related Informal Learning; (4) Non-Formal Courses and Workshops; (5) Future Learning Plans; and (6) Your Comments on the Profile. The SKP was created through action-based research using learners in a unionized factory, community-based women's employment program, and community-based literacy program. Volunteers at all three sites committed their time and efforts to filling out the SKP and then provided feedback on the clarity, usefulness, and ease of using the tool. Feedback has been incorporated into the SKP in a continuous process. The evaluation can be used by individuals to sort out their skills and to focus their efforts on a career path. The SKP is not only a tool, but also a reflection of a positive trend in adult education by which adult learners build on and share their own wealth of knowledge and skills.
KEY WORDS: Adult Basic Education; Adult Learning; Educational Assessment; Educational Attitudes; Educational Experience; Educational Needs; Evaluation Methods; Experiential Learning; Informal Education; Measurement; Needs Assessment; Prior Learning; Student Experience; Work Experience.

Osman, R. (2004). Access, equity and justice: Three perspectives on recognition of prior learning (RPL) in higher education. Perspectives in Education, 22(4), 139-146.

This article outlines three theoretical perspectives that have emerged in the literature on RPL and that are useful in understanding the complexities around prior learning, the human capital perspective, the liberal humanist perspective and the social constructivist perspective. Although each approach has its own blind spots and its own critics, it is argued that conversations between and within these perspectives are valuable for educators who in the final analysis are the ones who have to design and implement RPL practices that are educationally defensible and socially just.
KEY WORDS: Prior Learning; Human Capital; Constructivism (Learning); Higher Education; Equal Education; Justice; Access to Education.

Peruniak, G., & Welch, D. (2000). The twinning of potential: Toward an integration of prior learning assessment with career development. Canadian Journal of Counselling, 34(3), 232-245.

Argues that prior learning assessment is an integral part of the field of career development. Highlights some common features in the work of practitioners of prior leaning assessment and career development. Emphasizes that the commonalties of purpose should not be sacrificed to battles of professional identity. Discusses a program that has successfully integrated prior learning assessment and career development.
KEY WORDS: Career Development; Foreign Countries; Literature Reviews.

Peters, H. (2005). Contested discourses: Assessing the outcomes of learning from experience for the award of credit in higher education. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 30(3), 273-285.

When mature students enter higher education they bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience gained in their lives outside of education. A majority of higher education institutions in the UK and elsewhere around the world have now set up systems for recognizing and accrediting such learning. However the processes of assessing learning from experience tend to conform to other higher education assessment processes, originally devised for the assessment of learning gained through study in an educational context. This poses a dilemma for the students presenting their learning for assessment, those advising or guiding them and those assessing the learning. How can learning gained in a life/work setting be quantified and evaluated in academic terms? What happens in this process? This paper takes a discourse analysis approach to examine the process from both student and assessor perspectives, and proposes some strategies for bridging the gap in discourse between the outside world and academia.
KEY WORDS: Discourse Analysis; Higher Education; Learning Experience; Student Evaluation; Foreign Countries; Adult Students; Evaluation Methods; Prior Learning; College Credits; United Kingdom.

Romaniuk, K., & Snart, F. (2000). Enhancing employability: The role of prior learning assessment and portfolios. Career Development International, 5(6), 318-322.

Discusses how the use of prior learning assessment, especially with portfolios, can enable workers to take greater responsibility for their career development and shift emphasis from employment to employability.
KEY WORDS: Career Development; Employment Potential; Job Skills; Portfolio Assessment; Prior Learning; Staff Development.

Sawchuk, P. (2001). The final report of the "learning capacities in the community and workplace project": Unioned industrial workplace site (Ontario). NALL Working Paper No. 45. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at:

The Ontario Industrial Workers' research site offered a basic analysis of issues relevant to the Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) research and the labor education community. Project goals revolved around the need to examine development and applications of a new PLAR instrument, the Skills and Knowledge Profile (SKP), which is uniquely suited to examine the types of strategies, practices, and capacities that working class participants typically use. Primarily qualitative data from interviews were analyzed. SKP exhibited "situated" dimensions which, from a worker's standpoint, largely determined the perceived effectiveness of the instrument. Social organization of skills, knowledge, and learning processes were seen as a significant issue in the context of working class learning strategies, workers' practices, and progressive application of PLAR instruments such as SKP. In discussions of PLAR, SKP, and labor unions, notions of class consciousness were intertwined with informal learning relations. Intersection of class consciousness and development of critical views on the power relations among forms and conceptions of skill and knowledge led to the notion of a Workers' Knowledge Bank. In in-depth discussions, workers indicated the practical use/value was embedded within the process of administration itself and SKP provoked new understandings of one's own skills.
KEY WORDS: Adult Education; Developed Nations; Foreign Countries; Industrial Training; Informal Education; Labor Education; Learning Strategies; Participatory Research; Prior Learning; Self Evaluation (Individuals); Social Cognition; Test Construction; Unions; Working Class; Ontario (Toronto).

Scott, I. (2007). Accreditation of prior learning in pre-registration nursing programmes: Throwing the baby out with the bath water? Nurse Education Today, 27(4), 348-356.

The perceived learning of students nurses with and without prior clinical experience was investigated at two universities using a questionnaire. No difference was found between the perceived learning of individuals with and without prior clinical experience. The pattern of the responses between the universities is consistent. The implications of the lack of effect of prior clinical experience on level of perceived learning for the process of accreditation of prior experiential learning is discussed.
KEY WORDS: Accreditation of Prior Learning; Experience; Pre-registration Nursing.

Serafino, K., & Cicchelli, T. (2003). Cognitive theories, prior knowledge, and anchored instruction on mathematical problem solving and transfer. Education and Urban Society, 36(1), 79-93.

Tested the effects of prior knowledge and two instructional models--structured problem solving and guided generation (GG)--on mathematical problem solving and transfer to an analogous task. Data on students with high and low prior knowledge highlighted significant main effects for prior knowledge, significant differences on transfer to analogous tasks, significant between-group differences on favoring the GG model, and significant interaction between low priors and GG treatment on transfer.
KEY WORDS: Constructivism (Learning); Disadvantaged Youth; Elementary Secondary Education; Epistemology; Mathematics Education; Prior Learning; Problem Based Learning; Problem Solving; Urban Schools.

Sewell, P. M. (2000). Mature students in part-time higher education - Perceptions of skills. Innovations in Education and Training International, 37(4), 304-313.

Explores the interface between skills used outside college and those perceived as relevant to studies in college, based on a survey of mature part-time undergraduate students. Respondents also rated personal abilities and characteristics of mature students and offered suggestions for integrating their skills and experience into the study programs.
KEY WORDS: Ability; Adult Students; Experience; Higher Education; Individual Characteristics; Part Time Students; Prior Learning; Skill Analysis; Student Characteristics; Student Surveys; Undergraduate Students.

Simmons, S. R. (2006). "A moving force": A memoir of experiential learning. Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, 35, 132-139.

Experiential learning is a time-honored approach that can help to "...seal the bond between the learner and the learned." Such learning encourages the making of meaning from individual and shared experiences and helps abstract concepts to become relevant to the learner. The 20th century educational theorist, John Dewey, articulated a need for a unified "theory of experience" that could guide educators. He maintained that "all genuine education comes about through experience," although he noted that some experiences may adversely affect a student's capacity to learn from future experiences. This article presents a memoir describing the author's involvement as a teacher who has endeavored to practice experiential learning with his students, and especially through a multi-institutional, field course entitled Agroecosystems Analysis. This memoir was developed during a term leave at The Evergreen State College, an institution known for its extensive use of experiential approaches to education. This leave, and the memoir writing process, served as catalysts for reflecting upon the relationships between experience and learning. In addition to offering recollections and interpretations of the author's involvements as an experiential teacher, the memoir includes quotations from John Dewey and others that frame the author's convictions about such learning.
KEY WORDS: Teaching Methods; Writing Processes; State Colleges; Experiential Learning; Prior Learning; Washington.

Starr-Glass, D., & Schwartzbaum, A. (2003). A liminal space: Challenges and opportunities in accreditation of prior learning in Judaic studies. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 28(2), 179-192.

Regarding the accreditation of prior learning of Judaic studies, reviews the difficulties of criterion selection, current accreditation techniques, and those elements of the ultra-Orthodox structure of learning that are salient and problematic in accreditations. Drawing metaphorically on the works of Arnold van Gennep and Victor Turner, encourages a more theoretical, humble, and sensitive exploration of the liminal space that lies beyond structures.
KEY WORDS: Evaluation Criteria; Higher Education; Judaism; Prior Learning; Religion Studies.

Swallow, V., Clarke, C., Iles, S., & Harden, J. (2006). Work based, lifelong learning through professional portfolios: Challenge or reward? Pharmacy Education, 6(2), 77-89.

Since UK pharmacists are increasingly required to recognise and articulate lifelong learning. College of Pharmacy Practice (CPP) formed one strand aimed to describe and consider ways in which pharmacists used the CPP portfolio to articulate their knowledge. Data were obtained through semi-structured interviews with nine pharmacists before and after using the portfolios (n = 18 interviews). Key themes were "socialised learning" and "learning amplification". In particular, the findings emphasized the importance of recognising the advantages and disadvantages of work based learning and the environment in which learning takes place.
KEY WORDS: Continuing Education; Pharmacists; Professional Development; Human; United Kingdom; Work; Lifelong Learning; Professional Portfolios.

Tait, T. (2003). Credit systems for learning and skills: Current developments. LSDA reports. United Kingdom; England: Learning and Skills Council, Coventry (England).

In January 2003, a national working group was established to review past and current credit developments in England and recommend ways of taking learning credit developments forward in the future. The Learning Skill and Development Agency's case for credit was said to rest on the objectives of recognizing achievement and motivating learners and making the National Qualifications Framework more transparent and flexible. Possible uses of credit by further education, employers, policymakers, national programs, higher education, online learning providers, and the community and voluntary sector were identified. The credit framework developed within further education over the past decade was explained in detail. The following common features of credit systems across the United Kingdom were identified: (1) a multilevel framework with level descriptors from entry level to higher education/professional qualifications; (2) credit based on achievement of units of assessment and learning outcomes; (3) rejection of a "one size fits all" approach; (4) use of notational learning time to establish the credit value of units and qualifications; and (5) recognition that the framework enables but does not by itself establish credit accumulation, credit transfer, and other credit-based systems. The working group called for a common approach to credit operating across the United Kingdom and encompassing post-16 and higher education, including work-based learning.
KEY WORDS: Articulation (Education); College Credits; Colleges; Cooperative Planning; Education Work Relationship; Educational Certificates; Educational Policy; Educational Practices; Educational Trends; Employment Qualifications; Glossaries; National Surveys; Policy Formation; Postsecondary Education; Recognition (Achievement); Student Certification; Systems Approach; Transfer Policy; Units of Study; Universities.

Taylor, J. A. (2000). Adult degree completion programs: A report to the board of trustees from the task force on adult degree completion programs and the award of credit for prior learning at the baccalaureate level. Chicago, IL: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

In 1998, the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools established a fifteen-member Task Force to study the practices and procedures employed in adult degree completion programs. An adult degree completion program is identified as one that is designed especially to meet the needs of the working adult who, having acquired sixty or more college credit hours during previous enrollments, is returning to school after an extended period of absence to obtain a baccalaureate degree. The survey designed by the Task Force was completed by 78 institutions in the country. The survey report identified: (1) lessons learned regarding strengths and weaknesses of the programs; (2) exemplary principles of good practice; (3) the impact of the programs on the broader educational activities of institutional providers and the higher education community in general; and (4) strategies appropriate for an accrediting commission to use in ensuring quality in adult degree completion programs and practices without restricting access. Some of the exemplary practices reported in the study include the following: (1) faculty members are committed to serving adult learners, have appropriate credentials and participate in policy-making and professional development activities; (2) the institution offers adequate administrative support, financial and institutional resources to ensure the effectiveness of the programs; and (3) the institution provides access to a range of student services including admissions, financial aid, academic advising, delivery of course materials, and counseling and placement services.
KEY WORDS: Adult Education; Adult Programs; Bachelors Degrees; College Credits; Continuing Education; Degrees (Academic); External Degree Programs; Higher Education; Nontraditional Students; Prior Learning; Retraining; Special Degree Programs.

Thomas, A., Collins, M., & Plett, L. (2002). Dimensions of the experience of prior learning assessment & recognition. NALL Working Paper No. 52. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at:

A study extended studies on use of prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR) by concentrating on learners/students outside of the college system and exploring student experience with all dimensions of the use of PLAR. Fourteen university students were interviewed. Findings indicated respondents had re-entered formal education by novel means based on an individual assessment of what they knew, and had learned, outside the system of formal education, rather than solely on what they had learned within it; most encountered PLAR by accident; PLAR became the primary basis on which they continued in their educational quest, a welcome add-on that eased and enriched their educational experience, or a minor addition; they used all available PLAR devices, though a larger proportion used portfolios than in earlier research, and all respondents were self-directed students in addition to self-directed learners.
KEY WORDS: Adult Students; Advanced Placement; College Credits; Developed Nations; Educational Experience; Experiential Learning; Foreign Countries; Independent Study; Informal Education; Nontraditional Education; Nontraditional Students; Portfolios (Background Materials); Prior Learning; Recognition (Achievement); Student Educational Objectives; Student Motivation; Universities.

Tillema, H. H. (2003). Integrating developmental assessment with student-directed instruction: A case in vocational education in the Netherlands. Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 55(1), 113-125.

The Educational Development and Assessment System in a Dutch university's vocational education program involves student-directed, self-regulated evaluation methods and integrates assessment with instruction. Evaluation focuses on competencies and portfolio assessments.
KEY WORDS: Educational Development; Foreign Countries; Learner Controlled Instruction; Portfolio Assessment; Prior Learning; Vocational Education.

van Rooy, T. (2002). Recognition of prior learning (RPL): From principle to practice in higher education. South African Journal of Higher Education, 16(2), 75-82.

Aims to contextualize recognition of prior learning (RPL) as a principle and to show the implications of recent developments in education for implementing RPL in higher education in South Africa.
KEY WORDS: College Credits; Foreign Countries; Higher Education; Prior Learning; Program Implementation.

Vanstone, S. C. (1999). Publications and resources on prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR). Compiled for the research network for new approaches to lifelong learning. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

This bibliography provides a thorough and representative sample of the different types of available Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) publications and resources. These publications and resources are grouped under nine categories: (1) PLAR Policy (Canada, Europe, Africa, Australia, United States of America, New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific, Comparative Studies); (2) Implementation of PLAR in Formal Education (General; Postsecondary Education; Secondary Schools; Distance Learning; Second Language, Basic Education, and Literacy Programs; Methods of Assessment; Survey of PLAR Users; Assessor and Facilitator Training; Financing, Promotion, and Marketing); (3) PLAR and Work; (4) PLAR and the Military; (5) PLAR and Questions of Diversity; (6) Theories and Analysis of PLAR; (7) PLAR Literature for Learners; (8) PLAR Bibliographies; and (9) Publications en Francais. The total number of entries is 791; this number includes those instances when the same publication or resource appears under more than one category. Some entries are in French. Each entry consists of some or all of the following components: author(s) or organization; publication date; title; either place of publication and publisher or periodical title and pagination; and an annotation.
KEY WORDS: Access to Education; Adult Basic Education; Adult Education; Bibliographies; Distance Education; Educational Policy; Ethnic Groups; Experiential Learning; Females; Foreign Countries; French; Informal Education; Literacy Education; Marketing; Military Training; Portfolio Assessment; Postsecondary Education; Prior Learning; Program Implementation; Public Relations; Second Language Instruction; Secondary Education; Student Evaluation.

Wailey, T., & Simpson, R. (2000). Juggling between learning and work. AP(E)L in the UK. Lifelong Learning in Europe, 5(2), 83-89.

This framework for learning development in higher education stresses three types of skills--threshold, key, and transferable--and a variety of forms for assessing prior (experiential) learning [AP(E)L]. The function of assessment is both to credit prior learning and diagnose individual learning needs.
KEY WORDS: Education Work Relationship; Evaluation Methods; Experiential Learning; Foreign Countries; Higher Education; Prior Learning; Self Evaluation (Individuals); Student Evaluation.

Wihak, C. (2007). Prior learning assessment & recognition in Canadian universities: View from the web. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 37(1), 95-112.

Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition (PLAR), the practice of formally assigning credit for learning gained outside the formal education system (Thomas, 2000), offers significant benefits to adult students. Previous research had demonstrated that adult students may not, however, be aware of the availability of PLAR. This study investigated the availability of PLAR information on the websites of 60 Canadian universities. The research found that 24 Canadian universities offered PLAR for advanced standing. Considerable variation existed in the ease with which PLAR information could be located and in the quality of information provided. Universities were also found to vary widely in the supports offered to learners seeking PLAR, in the formality of their institutional PLAR policies, and in the extent to which the practice is institution-wide or restricted to specific faculties or departments. Findings are discussed in terms of implications for adult learners and their advocates and for future research.
KEY WORDS: Prior Learning; Universities; Web Sites; Adult Students; Foreign Countries; Access to Information; Educational Policy; Student Personnel Services; Prior Learning Assessment; Canada.
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