Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR)


It is common practice for adult educators, community developers or group facilitators to acknowledge and build on the experience and learning that adults bring to a program. What PLAR adds, however is a systematic and effective methodology, to make what participants already know and can do, the centrepiece of any educational program. This difference, even if it is only of degree, is what gives PLAR its dramatic and positive impact on learning.

The PLAR approach, therefore, devotes at least as much time and attention to explore, identify, and recognize the knowledge and skills an adult learner has already, as it does to presenting new content and instruction about the subject at hand. PLAR makes this process an absolutely fundamental part of building an individual's confidence in their capacity to learn whatever new things that may be necessary to achieve a participant's goals.

Through a PLAR process called "Portfolio Development" this approach also provides participants with a tangible result of their learning efforts and achievements, a Portfolio, to use as a record of what they have learned and as a base for the further learning and development they wish to pursue. The portfolio is not a collection of bits and pieces but a well organized, well presented and comprehensive story about someone's learning: past, present and future.

Over the past five years, the PLA Centre has applied the PLAR and portfolio development approach in a variety of adult learning and community-based settings. Through this experience we have learned that:

Money Management Application

The Portfolio contains the elements that demonstrate to the participants themselves, as well as to others, that each of them has a significant knowledge and skill base in Managing Money. Participants also have the capacity, as independent and motivated adults to identify and learn whatever else they may need to in order to reach their financial and asset-building goals. Finally, like other PLAR learning portfolios, the Portfolio will be a 'work in progress' rather than a finished product. In other words, it will be a permanent "learning asset" which, individuals can add to, revise and update as they move forward.

Leach, E., Cuvelier, A., & Myers, D. (2001). Learn Save Training (LST) Curriculum (pp. 260): Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition Centre.