Friday, July 22, 2011

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) 

Here is an interesting example not only of Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), but of an institutional approach to it's provision. The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) (United States) "is a national, non-profit organization whose mission is to expand learning opportunities for adults. CAEL works to remove policy and organizational barriers to learning opportunities, identifies and disseminates effective practices, and delivers value-added services." Scroll down to see their research and publications. Note the three tiered approach they take. I also find the CAEL's 10 standards for PLA assessment really interesting, and reproduce theme here in full:

Ten Standards for Assessing Learning
  1. Credit or its equivalent should be awarded only for learning, and not for experience.
  2. Assessment should be based on standards and criteria for the level of acceptable learning that are both agreed upon and made public.
  3. Assessment should be treated as an integral part of learning, not separate from it, and should be based on an understanding of learning processes.
  4. The determination of credit awards and competence levels must be made by appropriate subject matter and academic or credentialing experts.
  5. Credit or other credentialing should be appropriate to the context in which it is awarded and accepted.
  6. If awards are for credit, transcript entries should clearly describe what learning is being recognized and should be monitored to avoid giving credit twice for the same learning.
  7. Policies, procedures, and criteria applied to assessment, including provision for appeal, should be fully disclosed and prominently available to all parties involved in the assessment process.
  8. Fees charged for assessment should be based on the services performed in the process and not determined by the amount of credit awarded.
  9. All personnel involved in the assessment of learning should pursue and receive adequate training and continuing professional development for the functions they perform.
  10. Assessment programs should be regularly monitored, reviewed, evaluated, and revised as needed to reflect changes in the needs being served, the purposes being met, and the state of the assessment arts.
Note that in the Australian HE sector, charges cannot be made for RPL assessments (point 8 above). I have noticed that Charles Darwin University is now requiring students to enrol in a PLA-type subject to gain RPL, and perhaps this allows them to circumnavigate the no-fee problem.

I would however add others, particularly
  • The evidentiary requirements for granting PLA should not exceed the evidentiary requirements of a student enrolled in the subject acheiving a pass grade assessment.
  • The evidentiary requirements should be based on equivalence of content, theory and learning outcomes; not on sameness.

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Dialogue about blended learning

Visit a project I built using Wix in 2010 where colleagues and I explore the meaning of "blended learning"