Recognition of Prior Learning Overview

Here is a presentation I gave to a group of Faculty Deans and Directors this past week regarding how to recognize prior learning. Recognition of Prior Learning

I have worked for many years on this topic, starting back in 1997 when Briercrest College was developing a Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition policy and portfolio system. That opened the door for my participation in a series of meetings with the Registrars of Saskatchewan and the Ministry of Advanced Education and Training for the Province of Saskatchewan, the results of which you can see here. Since coming to Trinity Western University, I’ve been involved in the development of a similar framework for a portfolio system, primarily for our Adult Degree Completion program offered through our Extension division. Here’s a short video which was part of a CKNW AM 980  radio interview “Talk to the Experts” showcasing a couple of students who went through a Prior Learning Assessment at TWU.

I am regularly asked the following question about how to recognize prior learning.

Query: “Can we transfer credits for this guy from his [firefighter training]?” [Insert whatever kind of learning you want]

Grant: Does he have a transcript with credits on it?

Query: “No, but he has all these courses…”

Grant: If there’s no credit attached to the courses, there’s no credit to transfer. He’ll have to create a portfolio and make a request for us to recognize his learning and apply the appropriate credit, if any, to it. That’s not credit transfer – that’s Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR).

What are the common questions you hear about RPL: Recognition of Prior Learning? Leave a comment.



4 thoughts on “Recognition of Prior Learning Overview

  1. my brother and I had a similar experience in Highschool. we had been home-schooled before enrolling in an accredited distance education program. Our mom was able to put together a year’s worth of non-accredited homeschooling into a portfolio that the program accepted as pass/fail courses. Without that system in place, I would both have had to re-do my grade 9 school work, and David would have had to re-do both grade 9 and 10. Not only was that a time saver, but it was a money saver.


    1. That’s great, Jonny. People sometimes forget that this has been going on in a quality way for an awfully long time. It’s not new. And if it’s done with high quality, it shouldn’t limit students. It’s unfortunate that people often equate it with degree mills.


  2. I think our biggest demand at Providence is for courses like Intro Bible and Spiritual Formation; YWAM and other Discipleship Training Schools are very popular, and people always assume that they’ll just transfer in. We have a transfer policy for them, but it wasn’t always that accurate, depending on where someone did their DTS. We’ve just passed an RPL policy, and these courses are our priority for RPL for this reason.

    The upside to this is that students will get credit for what they know rather than what an old policy says they’ll get credit for. The downside is that they might not get credit for what they want credit for, and they’ll have to put in the time and money to prove it. I think it’s a step forward, but it’s certainly changing the status quo!


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