Introduction to RPL
What is Prior Learning?
- Prior Learning is any learning arising from previous life activities, work experience, volunteer experience, personal study or formal education.
What does Recognising Prior Learning mean?
- This is when value or credit is given to that previous learning in relation to the learning outcomes of an existing course or programme, usually occurring through an assessment process.
Many acronyms can be found in the literature refering to the recognition of prior learning
- RPL - recognition of prior learning
- APL - assessment of prior learning
- PLA – prior learning assessment
- PLAR – prior learning assessment and recognition.
- APEL - accreditation of prior experiential learning
As you explore further see if you can add any others to this list.
Along with many acronyms there are also a variety of definitions. The following are differing interpretations of RPL.
Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is recognising and gaining credit for what you have already learned, and the skills you have acquired from informal learning such as:
- life experiences
- work experiences
- training courses or workshops. (Career Services)
“The APL process assesses your skills, knowledge and learning acquired through years of experience in your life and workplace." (Capable NZ, Otago Polytechnic)
"RPL has been defined in a number of ways, some more expansive than others. All definitions, however, include the key notion that RPL involves the assessment of previously unrecognised skills and of knowledge an individual has acquired outside the formal education and training system. The process of RPL assesses hitherto unrecognised learning against the requirements for a qualification or for a course leading to a qualification, in respect of both entry requirements and outcomes to be achieved." (Sheridan, I., & Linehan, M. 2009, p.5) (Recognition of Prior Learning - A practice focus, 2009)
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Why assess for prior learning?
The following activities and reflection will help you explore why prior learning is recognised in the tertiary setting.