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The Recognition of Prior Learning Dr. Christine Wihak Director, PLAR.

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Presentation on theme: "The Recognition of Prior Learning Dr. Christine Wihak Director, PLAR."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Recognition of Prior Learning Dr. Christine Wihak Director, PLAR

2 Overview Intro to PLAR at TRU Why do PLAR? How to do PLAR Quality assurance in PLAR Questions; general discussion

3 Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition at TRU - OL

4 PLAR at TRU Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Act: 3 (1) The purposes of the university are … (d) to provide an open learning educational credit bank for students.

5 TRU’ s Open Learning Credit Bank Generous transfer credit policy, low residency requirements PLAR Department – evaluation of non- formal and informal learning –Open Learning and campus

6 TRU PLAR Department PLAR Director – based in Open Learning division PLAR Advisor (full-time) PLAR Assessors (as needed)  TRU - OL Faculty Members  TRU Faculty  External assessors

7 Prior Learning International Research Centre Mission: stimulate innovative and provocative research concerning prior learning and related theory, policy and practice

8 Prior Learning International Research Centre Researching the Recognition of Prior Learning (NIACE publication)

9 Prior Learning International Research Centre Research projects –Intercultural communication –Academic misconduct –Cognitive complexity of portfolio preparation –Evaluating learning from OERs (Open Educational Resources)

10 Why do PLAR? Government perspectives Institutional perspectives Student perspectives Instructor perspectives

11 Why do PLAR? Gov’t Perspective – Major feature of EC Lifelong Learning policy – Major focus of Obama’s higher ed initiatives – Required at universities in Australia, France – Being introduced in China, Malaysia

12 Why do PLAR? Student perspectives? Institutional perspectives?

13 Why do PLAR? Student Perspectives?

14 Why do PLAR? Save time Save money Good adult learning practice (eg. Peruniak & Powell, 2007)

15 Why do PLAR? Institutional Perspectives?

16 Institutional Perspective 2010 CAEL study of PLAR outcomes 62,000 adult undergraduates at 48 colleges PLAR students compared to non-PLAR students – GPA higher – Higher degree completion rates – Took more courses

17 Institutional Perspective EduVentures 2011 study 20, 000 perspective students Availability of PLAR significant factor in choice of institution

18 How to do PLAR?

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20 Quality Assurance in PLAR: A Guide for Institutions (Van Kleef et al., 2007) Criteria for Managing the Assessment Process – Need clear learning standards (outcomes) available for learners, assessors – Need criteria for assessors to judge prior learning (relevance, breadth, depth, currency, sufficiency, authenticity) – Need criteria for assessors to select assessment tools (e.g. “ fitness for purpose ” ) – Ensure assessment processes are reliable and valid

21 How to do PLAR? Need clear learning standards (outcomes) available for learners, assessors Need criteria for assessors to judge prior learning (relevance, breadth, depth, currency, sufficiency, authenticity) Need criteria for assessors to select assessment tools (e.g. “ fitness for purpose ” ) Ensure assessment processes are reliable and valid

22 How to do PLAR? Samples – Successful LL, UL modules – Unsuccessful LL, UL modules – Business communications course

23 Quality Assurance

24 CAEL Standards for PLAR “ best practices ” CAEL (Council for Adult and Experiential Learning) highly influential in global spread of PLAR Published Principles of good practice in assessing experiential learning (Willingham, 1977) and Assessing prior learning – A CAEL handbook (Knapp, 1977)

25 CAEL Standards for PLAR “ best practices ” Assessing Learning: Standards, Principles & Procedures (Fiddler, Marineau & Whitaker, 2006) provided revised PLAR standards CAEL standards being used as basis for PLAR policies in a number of American universities (e.g. Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools) and Canadian universities (e.g. Athabasca University, Brandon University, Ryerson University, University of Prince Edward Island)

26 Quality Assurance in PLAR Published in 2007 Authors all active PLAR practitioners in Canada: Amichand, Ireland, Orynik, Potter, Van Klee Based on Canada-wide research, funded by Canadian Council on Learning Three volumes available from

27 Quality Assurance in PLAR Foundational Policies – Should reflect CAEL principles or other QA principles – Incorporate PLAR into existing QA mechanisms, including periodic program reviews, external peer review and student feedback – Develop specific QA mechanisms for PLAR Link PLAR to educational planning

28 Quality Assurance in PLAR Foundational Policies (cont’d) – Provide PLAR support services for learners and assessors – Have clear, transparent definitions of PLAR and QA processes and communicate these clearly to learners and internal/external stakeholders – Include records management systems for PLAR in QA reviews


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