PLAR and Questions of Diversity

Algonquin College. (June 1994) Prior Learning Assessment: Pilot Project Phase 2: Community Partnerships in Action: Final Report, June 1994. Nepean: Algonquin College, School of Continuing Education, Health Sciences Section. 

See abstract under (Implementation of PLAR in Formal Education/Post-Secondary Education/Academic Programs and Professions/Nursing).

Askov, Eunice N., Barbara L. Van Horn, and Priscilla S. Carman. (Fall 1997) "Assessment in Adult Basic Education Programs." New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education (Assessing Adult Learning in Diverse Settings: Current Issues and Approaches), 75: 65-74.

The needs of various stakeholders are considered in this discussion of the purposes, strengths and weaknesses of a number of individual- and program-level assessment strategies in adult basic education.

Beier, Juliet J., and Ruth B. Ekstrom. (September 1979) "Creating Employment Equity through the Recognition of Experiential Learning." Journal of Career Education 6(1): 2-11. 

Describes two Educational Testing Service projects conducted to identify skills that women acquire through life experiences which are helpful to success in occupations and vocational programs, and to develop materials for experience-job linkages: Project ACCESS (Assessing Competencies Concerned with Employment and School Success) and Project HAVE (Homemaking and Volunteer Experience) Skills. Descriptors (major): Education Work Relationship; Employment Qualifications; Equal Opportunities (Jobs); Experiential Learning; Females; Prior Learning (minor): Access to Education; Adult Vocational Education; Federal Aid; Job Skills; Program Descriptions; Program Development; Work Experience (minor): Project ACCESS; Project HAVE Skills.

Benton, N.B.E. (1991) Recognition of Prior Learning: From Hegemony to Symphony. A report prepared for the Maori Caucus of the New Zealand Council for Education and Training in the Social Services. Wellington: New Zealand Council for Education and Training in the Social Services.

Benton, Richard and Nena. (1995) The Unbroken Thread. Wellington: New Zealand Council for Educational Research. 

See abstract under 1.6 (PLAR Policy/New Zealand)

Benton, N., and J. Swindells. (1992) "Linking Experience, Work and Learning: Empowerment Through the Accreditation of Prior Learning." Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE)/New Zealand Association for Research in Education (NZARE) Joint Conference, Deakin University Geelong, 22-26 November.

33 pages. For the past two years, Te Wahanga Kaupapa Maori of NZCER has been engaged in research and development in the recognition of the knowledge and skills that Maori people bring to various tasks in which they engage. One of the aims of our research is to demonstrate how they can have their learning outcomes credited towards a nationally recognised qualification. This paper will discuss examples of how such recognition could be achieved in relation to the requirements of a nationally recognised qualification in the area of preschool education and related fields.

Butler, Linda. (1993) "The Assessment of Prior Learning: Relating Experience, Competence, and Knowledge." In Disaffection and Diversity: Overcoming Barriers for Adult Learners. Ed. Judith Calder. Bristol, PA: Falmer Press. 159-169.

See abstract under 1.2.1 (PLAR Policy/Europe/United Kingdom).

Canadian Labour Force Development Board (CLFDB). (1999) Reaching Our Full Potential:Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition for Foreign-Trained Canadians.  Ottawa: Canadian Labour Force Development Board.

A team of 7 consultantsw across Canada used surveys, literature searches, interviews, focus groups and case studies to determine the current status of credential assessment and PLAR in Canada and in 4 other countries to develop an action plan with 22 recommendations.  The goal of the report is to help CLFDB identify practical ways to facilitate the integration of foreign-educated and trained individuals into the Canadian labour force.

Chanda, Noyona. (1990) Assessment of Prior Learning: A Common Sense Approach for ABE and ESOL. London, Eng.: Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Unit.

7 pages. Document Type: teaching guide. Target Audience: Teachers; Practitioners. This document makes the case for assessing prior learning and offers practical advice on how to do it within British English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and adult basic education (ABE) programs. Following an introduction, it is explained that a person's prior learning is obtained through prior study or life experiences. The next section explains why one would want to assess prior learning (to foster self-awareness, claim educational credit, plan a career, determine the level of entry in ABE or ESOL programs, or integrate experiential and academic learning). The next section lists characteristics of assessing prior learning and of initial assessment (identifies level of skill, highlights gaps in knowledge, establishes a starting point from the tutor's point of view, indicates content and methodology to students, takes note of what students can and cannot do, and categorizes students according to their performance on the spot). Four stages of assessment are listed: identifying the purpose of assessment; identifying learning experiences relevant to that purpose; analyzing these experiences in terms of knowledge, skills, and learning strategies; and demonstrating relevance. Examples include a student's guide to prior assessment and an illustration of how a teacher can help a student work with an English translation of his or her life story to identify prior learning. Descriptors (major): Access to Education; Adult Basic Education; College Credits; English (Second Language); Experiential Learning; Foreign Countries; Nontraditional Students; Prior Learning; Student Placement.

Conger, S. (1994) The Assessment and Recognition of the Occupational Qualifications of Foreign-Trained Workers. Ottawa: author.

Droegkamp, Jan, and Kathleen Taylor. (Spring 1995) "Prior Learning Assessment, Critical Self-Reflection, and Reentry Women's Development." New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education 65: 29-36.

Document Type: position paper; journal article. Another abstract: Part of a special issue on learning environments for women's adult development. The writers discuss the role of prior learning assessment (PLA) and critical self-reflection in reentry women's development. PLA refers to approaches that allow students to gain undergraduate credits for extramural learning. This validation of women's experiential learning affirms the importance of their real-life accomplishments and boosts their self-confidence, self-esteem, and academic self-esteem. PLA approaches that support development; experiential learning essays and self-discovery; the teaching of PLA skills; and two caveats are discussed. Descriptors: Adult Development; Experiential Learning; Females; Prior Learning; Reentry Students; Self Evaluation (Individuals).

Ekstrom, Ruth B. (March 1983) "Assessing Prior Learning Experiences." New Directions for Testing and Measurement, (Measurement, Technology, and Individuality in Education: Proceedings of the 1982 ETS Invitational Conference) 17, 69-78.

Document Type: journal article; research report. Prior experience learning often requires new and different kinds of measurement techniques. Methods are described that have been developed to identify and assess the prior experiential learning of adult women from their unpaid work in the home and the community. Descriptors: Adults; Experiential Learning; Females; Incidental Learning; Intentional Learning; Measurement Techniques; Prior Learning; Volunteers.

Further Education Unit. (March 1990) NVQs and Learners with Special Needs. National Vocational Qualifications Number 3. London, Eng.: Further Education Unit.

7 pages. Document Type: project description. A project of Great Britain's Further Education Unit explored the role adult education colleges can play in facilitating access to the national vocational qualifications (NVQs) for learners with special needs and identifying barriers to NVQs for adults with special needs. The issues surrounding the current and planned changes to the NVQs are that: (1) people with disabilities have the most problems in accessing vocational training in a country where less than half the population obtain a vocational qualification; (2) predicted demographic changes will mean that people with special needs will be needed in the work force; (3) lecturers and trainers need to shift their thinking about the capacities and futures of people with disabilities; and (4) NVQ awards should be free of any barriers that restrict access to them. Five colleges were visited and staff from nine colleges attended a seminar to discuss the issues. Among the findings reported were that: (1) few colleges were providing NVQs for learners with special needs; (2) training toward NVQs was not generally seen as a primary method of employment preparation; (3) in some colleges, special needs staff were ignorant of NVQs and their role in helping learners gain employment; (4) most schools put special needs adults into existing slots rather than providing tailored programs; and (5) pre-vocational education and career exploration opportunities were seldom offered. Among the project's recommendations were that adults should receive NVQ credits for prior learning and credits for basic skills should count toward NVQs. Descriptors: Access to Education; Adults; Career Exploration; Credits; Employment Qualifications; Government School Relationship; Individualized Instruction; Job Training; Labour Force Development; Post-secondary Education; Pre-vocational Education; Prior Learning; Special Needs Students; Standards; Vocational Education Identifiers: Great Britain; National Vocational Qualifications (England). ISBN-1-85338-189-6.

George, Priscilla. (1994) "Empowering People and Building Competent Communities." In Alpha 94: Literacy and Cultural Development Strategies in Rural Areas.

19 pages. Document Type: review literature; project description. For the Aboriginal peoples of Ontario, literacy is a process involving not only individuals, but also the whole community. Literacy leads to development and empowerment, which contribute to self-determination. Once the wards of the federal government, Aboriginal communities now are assuming more control over their own affairs. Education, including literacy, is key to such control. Aboriginal literacy practitioners seek to "place education into culture" by using the holistic approach and by considering the elements of self, community, family, and the universe (world view) during program development. The Ontario Native Literacy Coalition (ONLC) is comprised of 31 urban and reserve-based literacy projects. ONLC provides networking opportunities, training for Native literacy practitioners, culturally sensitive program materials, and advocacy on all levels. Literacy practitioners are from the home community and have knowledge of community members and culture, a sincere belief in the student, creative abilities, organizational skills, and deep commitment. Community coordinators recruit students, train tutors, develop or adapt materials to local situations, and raise funds. Because programs are community based and student centered, a variety of models have emerged, many of them involving cultural education and the whole language approach. Fourteen projects include literacy in an Aboriginal language. Practitioners meet for a week every 3 months, take courses, and visit successful programs. They identified the two most important courses in helping them enhance student self-esteem: the Healing Circle and Prior Learning Assessment (a portfolio development process). Descriptors: Adult Basic Education; American Indian Education; Canada Natives; Community Development; Community Programs; Culturally Relevant Education; Foreign Countries; Literacy Education; Native Language Instruction; Self Determination. Identifiers: Ontario Native Literacy Coalition.

Government of Alberta. Task Force on the Recognition of Foreign Qualifications. (1992) Bridging the Gap: A Report of the Task Force on the Recognition of Foreign Qualifications. Edmonton: Government of Alberta.

Government of Alberta. Task Force on the Recognition of Foreign Qualifications. (1992) Bridging the Gap: A Report of the Task Force on the Recognition of Foreign Qualifications. Summary Report. Edmonton: Government of Alberta. [23 pages]

Government of Australia. Department of Employment, Education, and Training. (1993) Recognition of Prior Learning: A Practical Guide for Women. Canberra: Department of Employment, Education, and Training.

Government of Australia. Department of Employment, Education, and Training. (1990) Women and TAFE: Recognition of Prior Learning -- Implications for Women. A National Plan of Action Project. Canberra: Department of Employment, Education, and Training.

Government of Australia. Department of Employment, Education, and Training. (1993) Recognition of Prior Learning: A Practical Guide for Women. Canberra: Department of Employment, Education, and Training.

Haden, Dan, and Sue Wells. (1994) Evaluation Bias in Prior Learning Assessment Challenge Processes. Scarborough, Ont.: Centennial College, Centre for Instructional Development. 

See abstract under 2.6.2 (Implementation of PLAR in Formal Education/Methods of Assessment/Challenge Process).

Hill, Diane. (March 1995) Aboriginal Access to Post-Secondary Education: Prior Learning Assessment and its Use Within Aboriginal Programs of Learning. Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Ont. and Belleville, Ont.: First Nations Technical Institute and Loyalist College.

See abstract under 2.2.2 (Implementation of PLAR in Formal Education/Post-Secondary Education/Community Colleges).

Mackintosh, T. (1992) "Some Implications of Recognition of Prior Learning for Maori Contemplating University Study." Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE)/New Zealand Association for Research in Education (NZARE) Joint Conference, Deakin University Geelong, 22-26 November.

10 pages. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) offers distinct advantages for mature students whose learning from life and work experiences are given formal credit in an academic context. For mature Maori students RPL encourages participation in courses that give credit for knowledge and skills which may have been gained in a different (Maori) cultural context. Very little research into the effect of RPL on indigenous cultures is available. For Maori people there are issues to be discussed and debated in order to clarify the likely impact of RPL on the Maori community. These discussions are particularly important to the development of RPL policy and programs in New Zealand universities. This paper will acknowledge some of the advantages RPL is likely to have for Maori. It will also identify some of the concerns and issues that are currently being discussed in Maori communities and tertiary institutions.

Mata, F. (1993) The Recognition of Foreign Degrees in Canada: Context, Developments, and Issue Relevance. Ottawa: Multiculturalism and Citizenship Canada, Race Relations, and Cross Cultural Understanding Directorate.

McDade, K. (1988) Barriers to Recognition of the Credentials of Immigrants in Canada. Ottawa: Institute for Research on Public Policy, Studies in Social Policy.

Michelson, Elana. (Fall 1997) "Multicultural Approaches to Portfolio Development." New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education (Assessing Adult Learning in Diverse Settings: Current Issues and Approaches) 75, 41-53.

The author contends that assessment of prior learning is based largely on Western academic assumptions about objective, universal knowledge. She explores efforts in New Zealand and Ontario, Canada, to assess knowledge that is embedded in specific cultural and ethnic contexts and that challenges current definitions of accredible learning.

Michelson, Elana. (Fall 1996) "'Auctoritee' and 'Experience': Feminist Epistemology and the Assessment of Experiential Learning. Feminist Studies 22(3), 627-655.

Michelson, Elana. (Summer 1996) "Beyond Galileo's Telescope: Situated Knowledge and the Assessment of Experiential Learning." Adult Education Quarterly 46(4), 185-196.

For all their celebration of experiential learning, current approaches to the assessment of prior experiential learning (APEL) are consistent with and, in some respects, trapped within Enlightenment theories of knowledge. Alternative epistemologies offered by post-modernist, feminist, and anti-racist theory suggest a different conceptual underpinning for APEL. Reinscribed within an epistemology of situated knowledge, APEL can grant visibility to outsider knowledge that is valuable for its divergence from academic ways of knowing, not only its similarity, and rewrite the relationship between experiential learning and academic authority. Descriptors (major): Educational Assessment; Epistemology; Experiential Learning; Prior Learning; Situated Learning.

New Zealand Qualifications Authority. (No date) Whaia Te Iti Kahurangi (In Pursuit of Excellence): Maori and Qualifications. Wellington: New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

Ontario Council of Regents for Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology. Prior Learning Assessment Advisory Committee. (1993) Outline for PLA Long-term Study on the Assessment of Foreign Academic Credentials. Toronto: Ontario Council of Regents for Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology.

3 pages. Aims to assess the long-term cost of implementing a systematic approach to the evaluation of foreign academic credentials for the purpose of assessing academic equivalency in the college system. Does not explore assessment of credentials by occupational bodies for the purpose of direct entry into occupations, but since such entry is the ultimate goal of many foreign-trained college applicants, it is taken into account. Lists possible requirements for changes to current equivalency assessment processes, key issues such as availability of data and funding, and steps in the study. Outlines the process and suggests a time frame. Descriptors: International students; Qualifications; Colleges of applied arts and technology; Community colleges. Publication date approximate.

Open Learning Network Project. Literacy Link Eastern Ontario. (February 1994) Recognition for Learning Pilot Project. Draft Copy. Kingston: Literacy Link Eastern. 

Document Type: research report. 248 pages. Sponsoring Agency: National Literacy Secretariat, Ottawa. A project was conducted to initiate a regional system of documenting and recognizing the learning that takes place in literacy programs. Phase 1 focussed on gathering articulation models and materials. In phase 2 the following were developed: a skills list for communications, numeracy, personal growth, and computers; skills inventories; and a possible accreditation model. In phase 3, nine literacy programs in eastern Ontario piloted the Open Learning Network's (OLN) accreditation system. Skills paths were developed from which learners and tutors could choose to develop knowledge in the four areas. Learner evaluation was designed to involve the submission of a portfolio to an assessment panel that could award a certificate of recognition in the four core areas. Committee members and learners discovered the following: the skills were not always sequential and the gap between some skills needed to be filled in; each piece of evidence should be as close to perfect as possible; three and not five pieces were sufficient; and more basic skills were needed for all paths and more advanced skills were needed for some learners. (Appended to the 19-page report are the pilot project manual, prior learning assessment materials for numeracy, and paths for communication, numeracy, personal growth, and computer skills.) Descriptors: Adult Basic Education; Adult Learning; Adult Literacy; Communication Skills; Computers; Educational Certificates; Foreign Countries; Individual Development; Literacy Education; Numeracy; Program Development; Program Evaluation; Student Certification; Student Evaluation. Identifiers: Ontario.

Rubin, Sharon G. (December 1982) "The Dialogue Between Voluntarism and Feminism: Implications for Higher Education." New Directions for Experiential Learning (New Partnerships: Higher Education and the Nonprofit Sector) 18, 35-46.

Document Type: journal article; project description. The feminist movement has encouraged women to question their traditional roles as volunteers and voluntary organizations have been reconsidering the ways they have used volunteers. Responses of higher education, such as the offering of volunteer administration curricula and credit for prior learning in women's studies, are discussed. Descriptors: College Credits; Experiential Learning; Females; Feminism; Higher Education; Nonprofit Organizations; Participant Satisfaction; Prior Learning; Role Perception; Social Responsibility; Social Services; Volunteer Training; Volunteers; Women's Studies. Identifiers: I Can Project; National Organization for Women; Volunteer Management.

Sansregret, Marthe. (August 1984) "Women's Experiential Learning: History and Evaluation Methods." Paper presented at the National Conference of the Canadian Congress for Learning Opportunities for Women, Toronto, Ontario, August 20.

24 pages. Document Type: position paper; conference paper. Educational institutions need to help women get a better education by taking into account the learning they have acquired through experience in homemaking, volunteer work, and other activities. This paper examines the need for recognition of women's prior learning by educational institutions and delves into some of the intricacies of the process. It begins with the history of recognition of prior learning, showing how experiential learning is really an old concept. Then the paper examines the recognition of adult learners leading to the recognition of women's prior learning in particular, as well as the obstacles encountered. Finally, the paper examines various evaluation methods and some basic principles of this kind of recognition, focusing on the portfolio method. The last section of the paper is a call for action on the part of educational institutions to respond to the need for change in order to fulfill their role of preparing women for the changing world to come. Descriptors: Adult Learning; Adult Students; Certification; College Credits; College Programs; Credentials; Educational History; Educational Philosophy; Equivalency Tests; Evaluation Methods; Experiential Learning; Lifelong Learning; Portfolios (Background Materials); Post-secondary Education; Prior Learning; Qualifications; Special Degree Programs; Standards; Women's Education.

Sansregret, Marthe. (1983) The Recognition of Women's Experiential Learning in the United States. Sainte Anne de Bellevue, Que.: John Abbott College, Ministère de l'Éducation.

297 pages. This report is intended as a tool for colleges, universities, volunteer associations, businesses, and industries that wish to give women official recognition for experience acquired through non-paid work. Chapter 1 examines experiential learning in the United States and how it is viewed for women. The second chapter is a selected bibliography from ERIC of 34 models, practices, and tools on experiential learning since the 1970s. References are presented in sequence, beginning with the oldest publication. Each reference is in the format used by the ERIC system for journal articles and documents. Chapter 3 offers a synthesis of 14 documents selected from Chapter 2 to present a range of steps that should be followed when implementing an experiential learning program for women. The documents are presented in the form of a synthesis preceded by titles and authors' names. Tables are reproduced from the original documents. The documents are grouped by target populations: vocational educators and employers, vocational educators, employers, and the candidate.

Sansregret, Marthe, and Ruth B. Ekstrom. (April 1984) "Awarding Educational Credit for Women's Unpaid Work." Paper presented at the International Interdisciplinary Congress on Women, 2nd, Groningen, Netherlands.

13 pages. Document Type: position paper; conference paper. Women who seek further education and the formal credentials it provides often have acquired valuable knowledge and work experience while performing various unpaid work in their homes and communities. Awarding college credit and recognition for women's non-paid work is a measure of social justice and equity. The three major ways to evaluate and credit prior learning are tests, credit recommendation for courses offered by business or community groups, and individualized assessment. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages; however, the portfolio method, which was developed for assessment of prior incidental learning, offers the greatest flexibility. Integration of practical work into college studies can be traced to the end of the 19th century; however, as late as the mid-1970s, assessment of prior learning focussed on learning from paid work experience. In 1984, work began in the United States to identify the academically accreditable skills and knowledge that women acquire from their unpaid work experience as homemakers and volunteers. Several studies and projects to develop models for such accreditation have been implemented in both Canada and the United States. Similar efforts have been undertaken in Europe and in the Pacific as well. Descriptors: College Credits; Educational Practices; Evaluation Criteria; Evaluation Methods; Evaluation Needs; Experiential Learning; Females; Learning Experience; Lifelong Learning; Portfolios (Background Materials); Post-secondary Education; Prior Learning; Sex Fairness; Student Certification; Student Evaluation; Work Experience. Identifiers: Canada; United States.

Whitaker, Urban. (Winter 1983) "Experiential Learning for Hearing Impaired." Journal of Experiential Education 5(3), 31-38. 

Document Type: journal article; evaluative report. Explores the nature of experiential deficiency pattern to suggest a preliminary model for assessing it and then considers whether and how experiential learning strategies can be accommodated to the experiential deficiencies of hearing impaired students. Descriptors: Educational Diagnosis; Elementary Secondary Education; Experiential Learning; Hearing Impairments; Individual Development; Needs Assessment; Program Effectiveness.

Wood, M. (1994) Accreditation of Prior Learning and the Bilingual Learner. London: Routledge.

Young, Grant L. (March 1994) Looking Through Eyes of Compassion: Visible Minorities in SIAST. Prepared for the SIAST Education Equity Committee [Saskatchewan].

44 pages. Document Type: research report; test, questionnaire. A research project examined the current needs of and potential services for visible minority students within Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST). The examination focused on three main questions: accuracy of the present definition of visible minorities, barriers experienced by visible minority students in six areas, and interventions or accommodations necessary to overcome these barriers. The primary research was undertaken by conducting focus groups with students of English as a second language and representatives from external groups and interviewing and surveying visible minority students. Findings resulted in these recommendations: determination of an appropriate name and definition for this population and revision of all related SIAST policies and documents to include them; active recruitment of equity students; development of a model for evaluating foreign credentials; evaluation of all entrance tests; development of a formal prior learning assessment process; development and delivery of a preparatory class, course in technical language development, and bias-free curriculum to increase retention; promotion of flexibility in program organization; development of academic support; promotion of diversity awareness; development of follow-up for minority students; mandatory staff development on diversity; and representation on the education equity committee for the external community. (Appendixes include 17 references, student questionnaires, and list of colleges/institutes surveyed.) Descriptors: Admission Criteria; Adult Vocational Education; Ancillary School Services; Educational Discrimination; Educational Research; English (Second Language); Equal Education; Followup Studies; Foreign Countries; Minority Groups; Program Design; School Holding Power; Staff Development; Student Recruitment. Identifiers: Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Sci. and Tech.

Young, J., and Associates. (1992) National Project to Develop and Trial a Model for the Recognition of Prior Learning of Women Gained Through Their Life and Work Experience. Canberra: Vocational Education, Employment, and Training Advisory Committee and the ACT Vocational Training Authority.

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