Topic 3 – Names and Acronyms

Because of the different historical and political contexts in which PLAR has developed around the world, PLAR has been given different names and acronyms to refer to what is essentially the same process. Each different acronym used for PLAR may also reflect some differences in perspective on what is important to emphasize. For example, the acronym PLAR used in Canada refers to Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition. In the United States, the acronym PLA is used, referring only to Prior Learning Assessment without recognition, while in Australia, the acronym RPL for Recognition of Prior Learning leaves out the assessment piece. Other countries and regions have crafted their own favour acronyms.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Identify different names and acronyms used for PLAR in different parts of the world.
  • Discuss two differences in perspectives reflected in two different acronyms for PLAR.

Learning Activities:

Using your own country and/or the eight countries described in Topic 2’s assigned reading, plot the their PLAR acronyms on a world map.

The assigned readings illustrate different perspectives on PLAR that are reflected in the names and acronyms that two organizations chose to use. Prepare a half-page description of the main difference in emphasis in these perspectives.

Self-Assessment Items:

  • Were you able to plot all the acronyms geographically?
  • Did you recognize at least one difference in the organizations’ views on PLAR?
  • Were you able to describe them clearly?


Van Kleef, J., Amichand, Sl, Carkner, M., Ireland, M., Ornyik, K., & Potter, J. (2007). Quality Assurance in PLAR: Issues and strategies for post-secondary institutions. Appendix E. Ottawa: Canadian Council on Learning.

CAEL (2013). What is Prior Learning Assessment?

NSW Department of Education & Training (2008). Have Your Skills Recognized: Candidate Guide.  Page 2-5.

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