Topic 9 – Theories Underlying PLAR

There are a range of concepts and ideas about learning that underpin PLAR. Experiential learning theory, such as Kolb’s Learning Cycle for example, is most frequently identified as the theoretical foundation for PLAR. Experiential learning theory is also connected to other theories about learning, including constructivist theories derived from Vygotsky and Mezirow’s Transformative Learning¬† theory, and helps us to tie them to PLAR practice.

Learning Outcomes:

Describe three theories underlying PLAR.

Learning Activities:

Reflect on the theories provided in the assigned reading and write a paragraph on how two of them might strengthen or weaken the situation you have been writing about in previous topics.

List three ways in which prior learning differs from formal learning.

Self-Assessment Items:

  • How do you envision the links between the theories and PLAR practice?
  • What place do you think theory has in establishing PLAR processes?


Lamoreau, A. & Taylor, K. (2005). PLAR as Transformative Learning, pp 1-5.

Additional Resources:

Pearson (2000),  Enhancing adult student persistence: The relationship between PLA and persistence toward the baccalaureate degree. Doctoral dissertation. pp. 53-59.

Van Kleef, J. (2007). Strengthening PLAR: Integrating Theory and Practice in Postsecondary Education. Canadian Journal of Applied Research in Learning, vol. 1(2). British Columbia: Canadian Council on Learning.

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