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BMAF Conference 2009 Writing from Experience Helen Pokorny London Metropolitan University

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Presentation on theme: "BMAF Conference 2009 Writing from Experience Helen Pokorny London Metropolitan University"— Presentation transcript:

1 BMAF Conference 2009 Writing from Experience Helen Pokorny London Metropolitan University

2 BMAF Conference 2009 Institutional APEL Drivers Market opportunities (health, social work, education) Fast-tracking (part-time/professional students) Social inclusion agenda (bringing into HE different forms of knowledge Retention (a way of juggling the widening participation agenda) Employer engagement agenda Student APEL Drivers Student APEL Drivers

3 BMAF Conference 2009 Issues arising from the student perspective  Difficulties in finding information about APEL. ‘It wasn’t easy. I asked a lot of people. I had to make several phone calls before I could get to talk to someone. It took about two and half, three months. UCAS were no help at all, nothing in the prospectus and not much on the internet. Tutors didn’t know’  Seen as a process for students with experiences outside the norm. ‘I didn’t want do that [APEL] because I didn’t think my experiences were worthy of that... I was attracted to it but I was scared of it.’

4 BMAF Conference 2009 Learning outcomes ‘I think they [learning outcomes] inhibited me and I’m going to...look at creative writing modules and see what the capabilities are and maybe look at those and say to myself well ‘Have I done that?’ ‘Have I achieved this?’ is this what I’m doing independently as a facilitator ?’ ‘I’ve been struggling with the learning outcomes idea, because I find that paradoxically I seem to think that I can do many things, and yet nothing at all – that is to say I am very successful when people already believe that I am, but I am unable to persuade anyone who does not already believe in me.’

5 BMAF Conference 2009 Struggles with language and with presenting learning in an academic context.  ‘ I’m having to learn a new language. I’m having to come out of my normal natural self…so I’ve had to learn and chip away at some of myself and repackage myself in order to pass through that process.’  ‘It’s their structure…and I have to respect that and try and fit my experience into that structure. They are used to working with the academic structure so this is like a runaway horse and it’s like hey where’s this going?’

6 BMAF Conference 2009 Issues arising from the tutors’ perspective. Complexities of accommodating a different form of knowledge development and assessment into an existing system. Ambiguity about the process i.e. the purpose it is designed to serve and what it should consist of.

7 BMAF Conference 2009 Tutors’ comments- what are you looking for ? ‘Reference to the critical literature’, ‘theoretical dimension’, ‘bibliography, and ‘written appropriately’, ‘to comply with certain academic requirements’ ‘examples of good practice in essay writing’ that they can write, read, edit, take charge of a text’. ‘We’re very big nowadays on learning outcomes. Evidence against that particular issue’.

8 BMAF Conference 2009 How should the learning be presented? So that you can very quickly flip through... and see what they’ve done’ and ‘… say tick, tick, tick’ ‘ not too much detail’, ‘repetition’ or writing that was too ‘verbose’...‘I’ve got to sort out for myself here what the evidence is… ‘I think one has to accept the effort which as gone into producing this portfolio as an example of some form of skill base’ ‘It should be taken into account to some extent their ability to document.’

9 BMAF Conference 2009 What are the tutors’ concerns ? ‘One should be as flexible as possible in accepting prior experience’ but at the same time ‘It is important that we do ensure that university standards are maintained.’ ‘The worst thing you can do is accredit something on the basis of a hunch […] and you fall on the side of the student and the student suffers.’

10 BMAF Conference 2009 What counts as educationally valid experiential learning ? To consider this question in relation to experiential learning assessors will need to consider different forms and expressions of knowledge. This makes it important that we aim to develop a shared understanding of APEL processes and criteria amongst assessors (including external examiners) and between students and assessors.

11 BMAF Conference 2009 References Pokorny, H. (2006) ‘Recognising prior learning: what do we know?’ in Andersson, P. and Harris, J. (eds)Re-theorising the Recognition of Prior Learning Andersson, P. and Harris, J. NIACE London Metropolitan University APEL Pages accessible at >APEL Website Peters,H.and Pokorny,H. (2003), ‘A Runaway Horse: Attempting to harness prior learning in the Academic Context.’ CRLL Conference, Scotland. QAA Guidance for the Accreditation of Prior Learning (2006) accessible at

12 BMAF Conference 2009 Some ideas for discussion… What potential do you think there is there for APEL development in your own context ? What issues remain for you?

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