Topic 8 – Quality Assurance in PLAR

Until the last few years, not a lot of attention was paid to how the quality of PLAR processes should be assured. As a first attempt at addressing quality issues, CAEL (Council for Adult and Experiential Education)  published Ten Standards for Assessing Learning in 1989, which were updated in 2006 (Fiddler, Marineau and Whittaker). Recently, this subject has received greater attention and resources are now available to organizations wishing to set up PLAR systems. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education in the UK produced Guidelines for the Accreditation of Prior Learning in 2004. In 2009, the European Commission published European Guidelines for Validating Non-formal and Informal Learning, and in 2012, UNESCO introduced Guidelines for the Recognition, Validation and Accreditation of the outcomes of Non-formal and Informal Learning .

This audio clip features European expert John Konrad speaking about the importance of quality.

Learning Outcomes:

Describe useful sources of information on Quality Assurance for PLAR.

Identify quality measures used in PLAR.

Learning Activities:

Review the readings and reflect on the scenario you described in topic 4. Make a list and briefly describe five quality measures that you think would be necessary to convince others that PLAR is a credible process.

Self-Assessment Items:

  • Were you able to identify five quality measures?
  • Are they realistic?
  • What needs to happen to put them in place?


Amichand, Ireland, Orynik, Potter & Van Kleef. (2007). Quality assurance in PLAR: A guide for post-secondary institutions, pp 5-6.

Fiddler, M., Marienau, C., Whitaker, U. (2006). Ten Standards for Assessing Learning. In Amichand, Ireland, Orynik, Potter & Van Kleef. (2007). Quality assurance in PLAR: A guide for post-secondary institutions, p. 32.

National Centre for Vocational Education Research (2006). Recognition of Prior Learning, Table 2, p. 11. Adelaide, Australia: Government of Australia, Table 2, p. 11.

Additional Resources:

Johnson, B. (2002). Models of APEL and quality assurance. Brentwood, England: Southern England Consortium for Credit Accumulation and Transfer.

Stenlund, T. (2010): Assessment of prior learning in higher education: a review from a validity perspective. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(7), 783-797.

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