Topic 6 – PLAR Methods: Strengths and Weaknesses

Assessment methods commonly used in PLAR include challenge exams, portfolios that document learning, demonstrations, and interviews. These methods may be used alone or in combination. Just as in classroom assessment, the various methods of assessing and recognizing prior learning have strengths and weakness.

A key principle of assessment in PLAR is that it must be done by a content expert. Content experts may not, however, be assessment experts. When choosing a method for a PLAR assessment, content experts may need to consult with a PLAR expert to select the most effective and efficient tool for the circumstances. The Reading for this unitĀ  presents a table summarizing methods of PLAR assessment and their strengths and limitations which can be used to guide this type of discussion.

Learning Outcomes:

Explain the strengths and limitations of at least fiveĀ PLAR methods.

Learning Activities:

Building on the scenario you prepared for topic 4 and the flow chart for topic 5, write a one-page description on which PLAR method(s) would make the most sense in your context and explain why. Draw on the information in pages 10-14 of the reading in preparing your description.

Self-Assessment Items:

  • On what basis did you select the assessment methods?
  • How can you make sure they are fit for the purpose?
  • What are the biggest drawbacks of the method(s) you selected?
  • What are the biggest advantages?


Amichand, S., Ireland, M., Orynik, K., Potter, J., & Van Kleef, J. (2007). Quality assurance in PLAR: A guide for institutions. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Council on Learning. pp. 10-14. Under “What’s New?”

Additional Resources:

Simosko, S. (2012). Assessing the Skills and Competencies of Internationally Trained Immigrants: A Manual for Regulatory Bodies, Employers and Other Stakeholders.

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