Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) allow students to receive educational credit for informal learning experiences. To what extent does PLAR provide an incentive for students to enrol in adult learning programs, whether on campus or off campus? Although this is not an easy question to answer, this paper offers an argument for the benefits of PLAR and why a national initiative promoting this concept would be valuable. This paper discusses the formation and implementation of PLAR and its relation to classroom and distance learning, because many distance education programs offer some form of PLAR. This paper will address the background problems; provide recommendation in respect to the many challenges and accomplishments that face students who do not fulfill regular academic admission requirements.
Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition is a process that involves the identification, documentation, assessment, and recognition of learning acquired through formal or informal study. This may include work, life experience, training, independent study, volunteering, travel, hobbies, and family experiences. The recognition of prior learning can be used toward the requirements of an academic or training program, occupational or professional certification, or for employment/labour market entry purposes. As defined by the Canadian Labour Force Development Board, “PLAR refers to several methods of evaluating learning from experience, training, workshops, self-directed study, as well as other sources for which university credit may be gained.”
PLAR offers the promise of credits and academic equivalencies that could potentially create new learning opportunities for working people. The general principles of equity and access are at the formation of Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition. Many individuals have not had the opportunity to pursue postsecondary education due to social, economic, and cultural barriers. However, colleges and universities worldwide have enhanced their programs to include distance learning for adults. Distance learning allows many individuals to enrol in college or university as mature students, thereby bypassing regular admission criteria. In allowing mature students to bypass regular admission criteria, faculty members are confronted with the problem of knowing whether the individual has the ability to proceed with postsecondary studies. PLAR is one of the instruments available to help deal with this issue. It provides learners the possibility of having their life experience acknowledged and applied to their postsecondary studies for credit. (Livingston, 2000). PLAR can be a powerful and flexible tool for addressing the needs of workers already working and especially for the inclusion of other groups, such as First Nations people and women. PLAR tends to focus on already advantaged, skilled workers and ignores semiskilled and unskilled workers in the most need of training and education. PLAR advantage
Census data indicates that the people in greatest need, including recent immigrants, older workers and dropouts from the formal education system, are least likely to get further training. PLAR interventions that may be most effective in helping adults facing literacy challenges involve the reorientation and more efficient use of existing educational infrastructure combined with new policy and program elements to address specific financial constraints and psycho-social barriers. Research data supports, the provision of PLAR services for this group could help up to 4 million adult Canadians view themselves as learners and encourage their greater participation in the labour force. (Livingston, 2000). Aboriginal Communities
When compared with the Canadian population as a whole, the Aboriginal population, which totalled nearly one million in 2001, is significantly younger. Thus, if one considers that Aboriginal Canadians are expected to make up an increasingly...