More and more post-secondary institutions are developing policies and procedures for the recognition of experiential learning achieved outside the classroom. These mechanisms are variously called prior learning assessment (PLA), prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR), or recognition of prior learning (RPL). Within the university sector, PLAR can ease the entry or return of adult learners to formal learning by providing them with opportunities to articulate and verify what they know and can do against the standards required by specific university-level courses and programs.
The web-based resources on these pages represent one way in which the university is attempting to provide faculty advisors and assessors with opportunities to become familiar with the process.
PLAR Forms (PDF)
Links to PLAR Sites in Canada
- This site, run by Thompason Rivers University (TRU) through its Open Learning (OL) Division, provides a place to network wiht other PLAR scholars and share research.
- CAPLA has been a national voice for PLAR advocates and practitioners since 1997. This site contains CAPLA's goals and strategic plan, information about professional development opportunities, and membership application information. Includes links to provincial sites and government policy documents.
- This site, administered by Dalhousie's Office of Instructional Development and Technology, contains useful links to instructional development sites worldwide. From these, you can access resources on assessment, evaluation, and other topics related to PLAR.
- Based at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, this research project brought together over 100 researchers and community-based partners in six working groups to investigate the relations between formal and informal learning. Includes an extensive annotated bibliography on PLAR.
- As Canada's open university, Athabasca University provides PLAR support for its distance learners via its Centre for Learning Accreditation. Visit this site for a comprehensive overview of PLAR and the range of academic programs in which PLAR is used to increase access to university level credits. Includes a useful list of principles behind PLAR assessments.
Links to PLAR Sites Outside Canada
Alverno College, in Milwaukee, WI, has gained an international reputation for its ability-based undergraduate education, a curriculum that emphasizes learning the abilities needed to put knowledge to work. Since the 1970s, Alverno faculty have worked to develop the concept of assessment as a multidimensional process of judging the individual in action. Check this site for some useful books, research reports, and resource materials, including the diagnostic digital portfolio.
CAEL is the professional organization that provided leadership for the growth of PLA in the United States for the last 25 years. This site describes CAEL's initiatives and provides links to a wide range of PLA resources and publications related to adult learning and experiential learning. The link on the Adult Learning Focused Institution project (ALFI) provides a list of principles of effectiveness for serving adult learners. CAEL hosts an annual international conference that is attended by PLA policy makers and educators from around the world.