Prior learning

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Prior Learning is any learning arising from previous life activities, work experience, volunteer experience, personal study or formal education. It is important to acknowledge this learning. If students are given the opportunity to demonstrate what they already know and understand they are more likely to become engaged in the classroom activities. On the other side of this, is the expectation that learners need particular skills to be able to engage in study at tertiary level.

At the course or programme level, a RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) process may be appropriate, where a student is given credit for either the entire course or programme or some of the assessments in the course. In this situation, previous learning is measured against the learning outcomes of an existing course or programme, and this usually occurs through a specifically designed assessment process.

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  • Make a list of the skills and knowledge that you expect your students to have prior to commencing your course.
  • How do you or could you assess whether these exist?
  • What support is there for students who lack the necessary skills and knowledge required to cope with the demands of your course?
  • What sort of learning activities do you or could you provide to accommodate students who already possess the skills and knowledge that you plan to teach?
  • What actions do you need to take to acknowledge the prior learning of your students?